Last year, we at Greenpeace Japan launched the SUSEA (Sustainable SEAfood) campaign, aimed at changing the attitudes of Japanese consumers toward fish and the oceans.  Following months of work with supermarkets and restaurants, as well as scientific research into various fish populations, we decided to see how people in Japan- the world’s largest seafood market- view sustainable seafood. Beginning in January, we commissioned a poll to gain understanding of how we can best work with the public in Japan to save our oceans. Today we announced the survey poll results to media and other stakeholders in Tokyo.

Western consumers are much more aware of the crisis facing our oceans, and how their fish-buying choices can have a direct impact on our seas. At the same time, since Japanese people love fishing and seafood plays such a huge part of our diets, we have to come up with ways to ensure that future generations have fish and fishing jobs for the future. The results of the survey- which took place in January and February of this year- include these highlights:

- 68% – of Japanese consumers want labeling of endangered or vulnerable fish species, in order to help them make better-informed choices

- Only 12% responded saying they would eat seafood regardless of its status.

More than half of survey respondents said they would like to see labels on seafood products caught using sustainable methods.

- Less than 20% of consumers surveyed said that they would want affordable and tasty seafood, even if it was considered unsustainable.

- 66% of respondents said they would like to gain more information at the consumption/purchase

- A mere 32% said this information was not necessary before purchase.

In the last few decades, industrial fishing has plundered our oceans of fish at an alarming pace. The UN estimates that roughly 80% of the world’s fisheries are on their way to collapse. If fishing and seafood consumption continues like this, our children and grandchildren might not be able to enjoy our oceans’ bounty.

Japan is one of the largest seafood market in the world and Greenpeace is working with restaurants and markets to increase the sustainability of Japan’s seafood. Our work has just begun and we are right now working with 20 companies to change the way seafood is handled here in Japan. We will keep you all posted on next steps.

Wakao Hanaoka is an oceans campaigner based in Greenpeace Japan’s Tokyo office.

Image: Greenpeace activists and volunteers, one dressed as "Fini the fish", hand out a seafood ranking guide to the public © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace