New findings released by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) show that more people are changing their diets to protect the environment as their worries over climate change grow.

The study conducted by independent insights consultancy GlobeScan[1] in 23 countries and involving 25,000 seafood consumers for the MSC, the international not-for-profit responsible for the world’s most widely used sustainable seafood ecolabel, found that nearly half (44%) who said they changed their diet in the past two years did so for a variety of environmental reasons. These include to eat more sustainably sourced food (23%), reduce climate change impact (20%) and protect the oceans (12%).

The study found that of peoples’ environmental concerns, more than half of respondents (53%) said they’re most concerned about the impact of climate change, followed by pollution (39%), extreme weather events (38%), and the health of oceans/decline in fish populations (33%). People are also becoming significantly more worried about the impact of climate change on the oceans, with a 10% increase from four years ago (up from 27% to 37%).

These are timely insights as South Africans not only celebrate National Marine Week this month, but also observe the annual World Food Day on the 16th of October. With the theme ‘Leave NO ONE

behind’, this year the universal World Food Day campaign emphasises the impact of rising prices (cost of living) and that of a climate that won’t stop warming on global food security – and challenges governments, food business and the public to help build a sustainable world where the global population has regular access to nutritious food. As they say; ‘No one should be left behind’.

Consumers, however, feel more empowered and are willing to act on their concern about climate change. Of those who said they changed their diet to protect the climate (increasingly referred to as “Climatarians”), 43% have bought more sustainable seafood in the past year, compared to just 23% for all other respondents. While nearly 1 in 2 South Africans surveyed (48%) are willing to buy sustainable seafood in the future.

Almost all (87%) climatarians believe that in order to save the ocean we have to consume fish and seafood only from sustainable sources. More than three-quarters (78%) of South African consumers surveyed now recognise that the fish/seafood choices they make can help make a difference to the health of our oceans – that is above the global average of 67%.

Despite increasing financial pressure on consumers, sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly still ranks at top with food quality and price as motivators of people’s seafood purchases in 11 of the countries surveyed – Austria, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

A change in climate calls for a change in diet

Earlier this year, intense rains along the eastern coast of South Africa caused catastrophic floods and landslides that destroyed more than 400 homes and displaced hundreds of people. The World Weather Attribution service finds that climate change doubled the likelihood of this event – from an event expected once every 40 years to once every 20. And this is just one of many extreme weather events in the Global South seen lately. More recently in the North, across much of Europe, unprecedented heat attributed to climate change has been a wake-up call for everyone.

The environmental impact of the choices consumers make are now a real concern and is increasingly driving more consumers to make changes that help prevent climate change. As the earth warms fast and the consequences become ever more severe, everyone has to make mitigating and adapting to climate change the priority.

The findings of the MSC/GlobeScan survey suggest that consumers are starting to act on increasing evidence for the need for change. For instance, the recent findings of the IPCC Mitigation of Climate Change report urged people to move towards sustainable and healthy diets to help protect the environment. A Mediterranean-style diet – rich in grains, vegetables, nuts, fish and poultry, the report said, could cut carbon emissions, prevent deforestation and help improve the health of the oceans.

Research published in the journal Climate Change Nature also shows that consuming seafood produces less carbon than the production of meat. The research found that for each kilogram of fish caught between one and five kilograms of carbon is produced while red meat production produced between 50 to 750 kilograms of carbon per kilogram of meat. Wild caught seafood is also a relatively low carbon source of protein as it doesn’t require land or feed to produce as with other sources of protein such as eggs, chicken and beef.

As of March 2021, there were more than 20,000 MSC certified sustainable fish and seafood products available worldwide – to suit every pocket – making it easy for consumers to switch to sustainable seafood.

Visit to find facts, recipes and more for your favourite fish species. Always look for the blue MSC label when shopping and dining out and feel confident that your choice of animal protein is contributing to a healthier ocean.