Communicating about sustainable fish in retail

Communicating about sustainable fish is not common in the fish mongers sector, although it differs per product group, that is the outcome of a survey and in-depth interviews among fish mongers. In the case of fresh fish, sustainability information is communicated more frequently than in products such as fried fish and in-house preparations such as salads. At the request of the Good Fish Foundation, the Science Shop of WUR has commissioned research on the communication about sustainable fish in the fish mongers sector.

A number of interesting points emerged from the research.

The diversity among fish mongers is large

The business types (store, sale trailer, market stall), sales locations and the composition of the clientele influence the assortment sold and thus the communication.

Most fish mongers communicate soberly

The information that all fish mongers communicate is the name and price of the fish, on the label with the fish in the counter. However, labels are too small to include additional information. As a result, sustainability information about origin, fishing technique and fish of the season is often communicated in other ways: via poster, screen or orally.

Fish mongers have several suppliers


Fish mongers have different suppliers for fresh fish, smoked fish and packaged or frozen fish. Fish mongers indicate that they receive or could obtain the required sustainability information from their suppliers. A point of attention is whether the flow of this information can be more uniformed. Only a very small number of fish mongers have a recognized sustainability certificate (MSC, ASC).

Interviewed fish mongers indicate that the costs and effort for certification are high in relation to the turnover that they realize. Furthermore, the certificate often only relates to a part of the total range. Many of the fish mongers believe that their customers are not interested in sustainable fish. Whether this is indeed so, should be investigated.

The most important motive for consumers to visit a fish retail store is quality, fresh fish and personal contact. Fish mongers indicate that their customers use the VISwijzer sporadically. Some fish mongers tell their customers the story about the sustainable fish. This increases the awareness that these customers are inclined to buy sustainable fish more often.