Model Laura Wells, a well-known campaigner for environmental issues and ambassador for the Marine Stewardship Council, last week hosted the latest Sustainable Seafood Day ahead of Easter and its traditional fish menu.
Ms Wells, a Sydney-based plus size model, who holds degrees in environmental science and law, and is also qualified in environmental management systems and carbon management planning, has a strong social media following, which she uses to promote healthy lifestyles and care for the environment.
In Sydney at Darling Harbour last Friday, Ms Wells drew a Who’s Who crowd of influential food writers, bloggers and glamorous supporters for the ninth year of the program.
The program, an initiative of the Marine Stewardship Council, certainly seems to be reaching critical mass, with Coles, Aldi and IKEA now all claiming varying degrees of sustainable sourcing for their seafood.
The MSC, formed as a response to the collapse of the northern hemisphere cod fisheries in the 1990s, certifies the sustainability of fisheries and the supply chain that brings the seafood to the consumer, labelling it with a distinctive blue tick.
According to MSC Asia-Pacific director Patrick Caleo, the event and the blue tick mean the option to choose certified sustainable seafood has never been easier.
Coles now claims it has had 100 per cent certifiably sustainable seafood in its wet fish counters and deli and shelves since October 2015.
Harriet Pile, Coles’s responsible sourcing manager, said: “This has been four hard years in the making and involves a huge amount of work to certify that every seafood across the whole range, Australian and imported, is certified as sustainable.”
Coles uses MSC and Aquaculture Sustainable Council certification, plus some independent certifiers, to achieve its stated claim.
In addition, canned seafood manufacturer John West now boasts that 100 per cent of its canned tuna is certified. As a result, according to MSC, 43 per cent of Australia’s canned tuna is now MSC-certified sustainable.
So, while governments (apart from the Northern Territory) seem incapable of legislating even for compulsory country-of-origin labelling on seafood, and the federal government has not delivered on previous government commitments to enforce regulation of the Coral Sea as a marine reserve to safeguard fish nurseries, it seems that consumers can make a difference, voting with their dollars for sustainable oceans.
“I’ll admit, in the past it has been a challenge to find the blue tick – but now it is hard to miss it throughout the frozen, fresh, deli counters and shelves of Australian supermarkets,” Mr Caleo said.