Move over pumpkins and broomsticks, this October isn’t about Halloween but about responsible seafood, as ASC joins forces with MSC to celebrate awareness weeks and months in countries on three continents. Ready for a whistle-stop world tour?
Starting this week in The Netherlands and Belgium is, depending on what language you speak, Bewuste Visweek or Semaine de la Pêche Responsable. The focus of the week is on the impact that the ASC and MSC labels have on our waters, and on the people who depend on them, and this message is being delivered via compelling real-life stories.
Responsible seafood is a global and a local issue, and this is reflected with stories ranging from the resident of Karlsøy, a remote island in the north of Norway who works for a salmon farm, to Ecuadorian shrimp farmers protecting mangrove forests, to the land-based farmers of Kingfish in Zeeland in The Netherlands.
For those feeling intrigued but wary of seafood, ASC and MSC have teamed up with Dutch fishmongers to produce a recipe book, while Icelandic chef Dagný Rós is also lending her support. Kids can even get involved in the week, with a school competition in Belgium to organise a lesson about responsible seafood – the winners of which will win tickets to Antwerp Zoo!
Check deinen fisch
Meanwhile in Germany over the next fortnight consumers are being encouraged to check deinen fisch, or check your fish. The initiative has been developed by ASC and MSC, with its own website filled with top tips about the best way to find responsibly sourced fish, such as being adventurous and trying new species, eating all of the fish, and – of course – using the ASC and MSC labels, which can only appear on seafood that has been responsibly farmed or sustainable caught.
The initiative is being launched with two weeks of campaigning with over 45 partners, including Edeka, Aldi, Lidl, Deutsche See and the zoos in Cologne and Heidelberg.
A fact-based informative campaign is arriving at just the right time, as a survey by ASC and MSC in Germany has found a real lack of clarity among the public about whether they can eat fish, and how they can be sure it is sustainable. This contrasted with the views of expert scientists also surveyed, who overwhelmingly agreed that it is not necessary to completely renounce seafood – 89% of the experts agreed that aquaculture and fishing can be sustainable.
Clearly there is a lot of contradictory information out there, confusing the very people – consumers – whose purchase decisions can make a difference. The idea behind check deinen fisch is to counter this confusion with some simple facts and advice.
The new way to seafood
In the United States they don’t do things by halves and the entire month of October will be dedicated to seafood. National Seafood Month takes place every October, and this year ASC is using it as the perfect opportunity to launch a new campaign: The New Way to Seafood. The campaign will see ASC teaming up with partners including the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, the Global Salmon Initiative, and Mowi, to inform American consumers about the many benefits of looking for certified fish, as well as providing recipes and fun facts about salmon, shrimp and grouper.
The campaign will be accompanied by media stories about responsible farming and some of the innovative ways ASC ensures that only certified fish finds its way into any labelled product, despite the complex supply chains of modern food.
Protect the future of fish
Japan is another country where the celebration of responsible seafood is just too eventful to squeeze into one week, so their ‘Sustainable Seafood Week’ lasts the entire month of October. This year is the eighth annual campaign between ASC and MSC in the country, and this year’s theme was “Choose and protect the future of fish”.
It features an animation video narrated by radio DJ Kazuki Kawata. Another celebrity getting involved is Yusei Nagashima, and he has good reason for wanting to protect the future of fish: they’re all he paints! He grew up fascinated by fish and so became a uofu gaka – that is, someone who specialises in painting fish. His followers are regularly treated to beautifully rendered images of different species, along with his thoughts about them, but as part of Sustainable Seafood Week some will be even luckier, with the chance to win a shopping voucher with illustrations of coho salmon and albacore tuna. Hopefully the salmon is ASC certified!
And that ends our world tour of celebrations of responsible seafood – hopefully you aren’t too jet lagged. If you’re in one of these countries, be sure to check out ASC’s social media to find out how you can get involved. If you don’t, never fear – you can do your bit by looking for ASC certified seafood, which is present in countries on every continent. You don’t need to be in Germany to check deinen fisch.