Communicating Sustainable Seafood

The seafood communications landscape: opportunities and challenges

Somewhere between the end of aisles four and seven it sits – a sparkling glass case showcasing our ocean’s most prized possessions. Fresh Alaskan salmon. Jumbo prawns. King crab. Halibut. Oysters and mussels. For most consumers, seafood is more than just another protein. It nourishes our families, brings us together and connects us to the seas and waterways from which it came. Seafood, unlike any other item we might find in our markets or on our dinner tables, can transport us.

From the hardworking, multigenerational fisherman navigating the frigid waters of the Bering Sea to the centuries-old coastal fishing villages of New England, our romance with seafood has never ceased. But like any deep relationship, it is precious and fragile. While there may be no perfect recipe for ensuring consumer trust in seafood, what we do know is that trust is essential in maintaining the close bond between our love of seafood and the waterways from which it is sourced. It’s a love story worth telling.

Cover of the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer cover

To learn more about trust and communications, see the Edelman Trust Barometer. Edelman is a global communications marketing agency.

As an industry, it is our responsibility to uphold that trust, and to share the origin stories of our fishers and communities that provide for us. Consumers not only deserve to know where their seafood came from and how it was harvested, handled and processed, they are demanding it. Certifications, increased transparency and open dialogue are just some of the ways we work to ensure this trust, but there is always more to be done. Both the health of our industry and the health of our planet depend upon it.

Today more than ever, brands, NGOs and companies alike must work to understand that trust is a mandatory component of sustainability and is essential in building relationships as we talk about seafood and what it means to lead a sustainable industry.

Key takeaways

Collaborate with other stakeholders to identify and address the barriers to seafood consumption; work together to align messaging and framing.

Seafood has a compelling story; share details about product origin and what goes into bringing responsible seafood from sea to table.


Forge emotional connections to seafood as one of the world’s greatest natural resources.

 Extol sustainable seafood’s enviable protein tale and seafood’s place in the modern diet: high in nutrition, low on environmental impact when harvested or raised responsibly.

Engage the young: plant a seed in new generations that will grow. Young people are open to new tastes and receptive to seafood’s environmental and nutritional advantages.

 

Science you can use

Trust and communications in sustainable seafood

woman surveys fish caseTrust is in crisis around the world.” So concludes the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer,[1] the annual review on institutional trust produced by the global communications marketing firm Edelman, Inc. Indeed, their latest survey results find a broad decline in the general population’s confidence in all four key institutions – business, government, NGOs, and media.

The perception of a gradual erosion of public trust in business in particular is not new: The same conclusion was reached, for example, by a 2009 survey of senior executives around the world as conducted by the McKinsey Quarterly.[2] Nonetheless, business is considered more trustworthy than government or the media according to the Edelman survey, though this finding is tempered somewhat by strong respondent support for increased business regulation.

 

Value creation from a strategic communication perspective is situated within what has been termed the “knowledge economy”; capital is generated via communication with employees (human capital), between employees (organizational capital) and between employees and other stakeholders (relational capital)

Building trust through story

2017 Seafood Champion winner IPNLF and the government of St. Helena team up to tell their story of one-by-one tuna fishing.

The one-by-one philosophy: St Helena shows the world that ocean conservation and profitable fisheries can work hand-in-hand. Established by IPNLF, the St Helena Government and the St Helena Fisheries Corporation, with support from the local fishermen, this project will establish best-practice traceability, transparency and data recording systems in St Helena’s one-by-one tuna fishery supply chains, while also working to deliver better returns to the fishers and coastal community through quality improvements and market gateways. Through the power of storytelling, and by sharing the passion and dedication of the fishers who bring sustainable, responsible seafood to our plates, not only are new markets created for these communities, but trust is built for their product and their way of life.

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