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Time for Global Seafood Consumers Association (SCA)

Time for Global Seafood Consumers Association (SCA)

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By FishProf

The FishProf has found that being a seafood consumer sucks! At high profile hotels and restaurants, he is lied to; in retail shops he is cheated; he is ignored by governments who are limiting commercial fishing to create elitist recreational fishing and in many countries the industry has no customer vision to create excellence! It’s time for Global Seafood Consumers Association (SCA).

In 2010 the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlighted that seafood plays an ESSENTIAL role in human nutrition and the low levels of seafood consumption in many countries were impacting chronic diseases estimated not only in lives lost but also in billions of dollars in health care.

FAO made recommendations for Member States in that they should:

1. Acknowledge fish as an important food source of energy, protein and a range of essential nutrients and fish consumption as part of the cultural traditions of many people.

2. Emphasize the benefits of fish consumption in reducing coronary heart disease mortality (and the risks of mortality from coronary heart disease associated with not eating fish) for the general adult population.

3. Emphasize the net neurodevelopmental benefits to offspring of fish consumption by women of childbearing age, particularly pregnant women and nursing mothers, and the neurodevelopmental risks of not consuming fish to offspring of such women.

4. Develop, maintain, and improve existing databases on specific nutrients and contaminants, particularly methylmercury and dioxins, in fish consumed in their region; and

5. Develop and evaluate risk management and communication strategies that minimize risks and maximize the benefits of eating fish.

Many countries have failed to deliver on what they agreed and there is now an organization that aims to take to task countries who are failing to deliver on those promises. The FishProf has found that being a seafood consumer sucks! At high profile hotels and restaurants, he is lied to; in retail shops he is cheated; he is ignored by governments who are limiting commercial fishing to create elitist recreational fishing and in many countries the industry has no customer vision to create excellence!

Barrabundy from Taiwan

 

Barrabundy from Taiwan

The Global Seafood Consumers Association (SCA) (www.seafoodconsumers.global) is now up and running. The SCA acknowledges seafood’s critical role in preventing chronic diseases like heart, lung, diabetes, obesity, cancer, kidney, stroke, etc. Consumers believe it is imperative that important communications are based on FACTS rather than OPINIONS and that the whole chain is transparent (this includes NGO’s over the years promoted their opinions as facts). We must highlight the myths and build foundations on truth before this all gets too far out of hand.

“The SCA is a global membershipbased, non-governmental, non-profit body created to promote the interests of seafood/aquatic food consumers of goods and services by disseminating information and lobbying for laws to protect consumers against producers or sellers, ensuring that governments recognize consumers’ rights.”

The SCA global community recognizes that there is a need for a nonpolitical and non-commercial independent party to voice the issues that impact seafood/aquatic food consumers in a market economy. Seafood is the largest traded food commodity globally and that is essential to support.

FishProf is writing this on the day that the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) has reported the total global volume of fish, shrimp, clams, and other aquatic animals that are harvested by farming has topped the amount fished in the wild from the world’s waters for the first time ever (FAO 2024).

Consumers views are under-represented, and they need to be heard to address the disparity in bargaining power, knowledge and resources between consumers, governments, and businesses in the global economy and creating the SCA is an effective avenue to collectively exercise the civil rights of disadvantaged/vulnerable communities/groups to be represented and heard before decisions affecting their welfare are taken.

“SCA acknowledge that at local and national levels, consumer organizations have undertaken various actions that draw on their well-honed skills in independent research, advocacy, testing and publishing but it is time for a truly global approach.”

A majority of the actions involve, educating consumers intending to change their attitudes and behavior; providing consumers with timely information about popular products and services; monitoring and exposing misleading “claims” by environmental groups, product suppliers/manufacturers and advertisers and helping governments establish codes of practice, laws, standards, and regulations; researching “labeling” schemes to help consumers identify ethical and “green” products, ensuring ‘greenwashing’ does not occur and that there is proven and transparent cost-benefit analysis in favor of the consumer.

These were listed on Menu as Roasted King Prawns but were they?

 

These were listed on Menu as Roasted King Prawns but were they?

SCA aim to be conducting campaigns in response to specific consumer-related problems; advocating for the interests of consumers at relevant global, national, regional, and international fora; and networking and cooperating with other relevant NGOs on consumer issues of shared concern and interest.

The proposition is that, as our fish stocks are a publicly owned resource, domestic consumers of locally caught seafood should be recognized as primary stakeholders in resource allocation processes – this view is expanded to fish/aquatic stocks in international waters.

SCA supports sustainable aquaculture and believe that every country should have a pro-active aquaculture plan to ease the burden on fisheries and increase fish/seafood for food security and nutrition. Consumers need to be actively involved as primary stakeholders in issues relating to legislation and provide new insights that can be used by some stakeholders, such as retailers and fish farm managers, on how to improve the acceptability of aquaculture and its products.

Ross Winstanley, a concerned Victorian, was reported as saying “Too often, governments are prepared to terminate demonstrably sustainable commercial fisheries in favor of recreational fishing when the overall community benefits from both sectors are perfectly sustainable. Too often, on-water conflicts between anglers and commercial fishers are “resolved” by eliminating commercial fishing instead of seeking negotiated resolutions or drawing on the range of fisheries management tools. Too often, commercial fishers must accept publicly funded compensation packages to quit sustainable fisheries. Sometimes, compensation packages are funded from recreational fishing license revenue; this effectively reduces resource allocation to a commercial transaction between commercial and recreational fishers. Local consumers generally form the largest stakeholder group for any commercially fished stock to supply domestic markets. Further, in terms of numbers, they roughly equate to “the community” – the owners of the resource” (Winstanley 2017).

“Generally, seafood consumers are not ranked equal to recreational, commercial, Indigenous, subsistence and artisanal interests in recognizing “rights” and a clear position in allocation policy processes. This is clearly wrong!”

SCA aims to raise awareness of safe, sustainable consumption of seafood/aquatic foods by providing clear and objective messages, clarifying the ‘sustainable’ concept so that consumers have all the necessary information to make the best decisions when choosing the seafood they will consume; and will center the topic on food rather than on resources as a more effective way to raise a broad community because reconnecting consumers and producers could improve knowledge and interest and bring to light new questions relating to nutrition and food security.

In many countries there are Community-based fisheries which enhance the social, ecological, and cultural fabric of our coastal communities. At the heart of communitybased fisheries are community-based fishers who live and work in the communities where they fish. They are typically independent, owner-operators, and are inherently committed to the long-term health of the marine ecosystem.

Community-based fisheries cannot survive without equitable access to the ocean commons where access should be kept affordable, available to future generations, and connected to the communities where they are fished. The ocean and its resources should be held in public trust and not privatized. This could easily apply to aquaculture if local communities take aquaponics to higher levels.

The Dory on offer here in a Queensland fishmonger shop is actually Basa likely from Viet Nam (Photo: FishProf, May 21, 2024).

 

The Dory on offer here in a Queensland fishmonger
shop is actually Basa likely from Viet Nam
(Photo: FishProf, May 21, 2024).

Paying a fair price to harvesters, processors, and shore-side businesses helps support local economies and increases the quality of life for all those handling our fish. Communitybased seafood should be available and affordable for all communities and must be balanced against the needs and limits of the ocean as well as harvester’s ability to sustain a livelihood with dignity and joy.

“Paying a fair price is also based on a conservation ethic where fishers are able to attain higher value for lower volume of catch, which places less pressure on the fish stocks. Profiteering by middle operators handling the communities resource needs to be reviewed.”

The SCA recognizes that sustainability is a path and a goal to strive for, that ecosystems are the basis of good management, and that ecological sustainability needs to be a government priority and SCA much prefer to see governments controlling this rather than handing over control to NGO’s who often have hidden agendas and are building businesses between the harvester and the consumer.

Consumption of seafood/aquatic food products is highly associated with consumers’ lifestyles; it is essential to identify innovative approaches to promote sustainable seafood consumption among the entire global population.

SCA recognizes that this path must involve as many people as possible, and are looking at some priority issues:

1. Involvement in schools’ education as a significant step towards the implementation of essential concepts such as healthy and sustainable food choices because younger population groups are more flexible in adopting new concepts.

2. Connecting girls and women to the information and knowledge about the ‘1,000 Days Program’ (https://thousanddays.org/).

3. Engagement with aged people and aged care, ensuring they are getting the correct advice about seafood consumption; and,

4. Hospitality (i.e., hotels, clubs, and restaurants) and retail providers as places to educate the population about seafood consumption by developing menus with sustainable recipes and training staff to create consumer satisfaction/ experience; and

5. Influencing medical professionals by providing correct information about seafood consumption and chronic disease based on sound medical research, information, and knowledge.

An Advisory Board is being established for SCA and the Association is waiting on some final approvals before it can launch but, in the meantime, these have been reserved as communication sites.

Website – https://seafoodconsumers.global/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/seafoodconsumersassociation

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/seafoodconsumersassociation/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/seafood_consumers_association

X – https://twitter.com/sea_food_global

In conclusion, the establishment of a Seafood Consumers Association will provide consumers with the tools and information necessary to make informed, responsible choices.

It would advocate for increased seafood consumption through higher standards of safety, sustainability, and ethical practices within the seafood industry, ultimately benefiting consumers, businesses, government, and the environment. Come and join SCA and The FishProf on the journey!

FishProf

Regular contributor The Fishmonger has now morphed into FishProf and will continue contributing to AQUACULTURE MAGAZINE but also welcomes all the readers to connect through www.fishprof.com and join in our promotions to increase seafood consumption globally. References and sources consulted by the author on the elaboration of this article are available under previous request to our editorial staff.

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