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Fish out of water: consumers’ unfamiliarity with the appearance of commercial fish species
Cusa, M.; Falcão, L.; De Jesus, J.; Biolatti, C.; Blondeel, L.; Bracken, F.S.A.; Devriese, L.; Garcés-Pastor, S.; Minoudi, S.; Gubili, C.; Acutis, P.L.; Mariani, S. (2021). Fish out of water: consumers’ unfamiliarity with the appearance of commercial fish species. Sustainability Science 16: 1313-1322.
In: Sustainability Science. Springer: Berlin. ISSN 1862-4065; e-ISSN 1862-4057
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Sustainable fishing · Seafood traceability · Mislabeling · Environmental awareness · Food literacy · Marine conservation

Authors  Top 
  • Cusa, M.
  • Falcão, L.
  • De Jesus, J.
  • Biolatti, C.
  • Blondeel, L.
  • Bracken, F.S.A.
  • Devriese, L.
  • Garcés-Pastor, S.
  • Minoudi, S.
  • Gubili, C.
  • Acutis, P.L.
  • Mariani, S.

    Seafood labels play an increasingly key role in assisting consumers in purchasing processed and featureless fish products, and in encouraging sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices. While informed purchasing choices are typically influenced by traceability and labelling awareness, they also depend on the consumers’ ability to identify and discriminate the fish species available on the market, which to date remains notably unexplored. We asked 720 people across six European countries to identify pictures of six fish species commonly sold in Europe. We reveal that European consumers have a poor understanding of the appearance of the fish they consume (overall ∼ 30% correct identification), with British consumers performing the poorest and Spanish ones doing best. We noted cultural association with some species, whereby the most regionally consumed fish are more easily recognized. We argue that despite recent improvements in technological solutions, stakeholder dialogue, and policy implementation, seafood market transparency will remain open to malpractice until consumers restore connection with their food.

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