Taking The Suss Out Of Sustainability

On the eve of ‘Sustainable Seafood Day’  an awareness heads-up for consumers wishing to make ethical seafood choices prior to the seafood feeding frenzy of Easter, I get a tad prickly. I get tetchy about some of the bollocks that gets bandied about in the name of the environment.

Sustainable Seafood Day is an initiative of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) a global not-for-profit non-government body that conducts independent certification of fisheries’ sustainability. In the same way provenance is an imperative process in the buying of art – a proof of authenticity and pedigree – MSC certification provides an independently certified paperchase…a chain of custody, that stands up to the most stringent scrutiny. It is the international yardstick for wild caught seafood sustainability.

No problem there. Look after our seafood stocks and they will look after us. There are those with commercial interests in the seafood industry who cast aspersions on MSC certification but that concern is more about their vested self-interest and its relationship to their bank balance. But beware of red herrings …and Greenwash.

Greenwash is the overworked and misleading puff that corporates and governments dish out to position themselves as enviro-friendly. A recent classic case was Woolworths promoting its ‘Select’ brand paper products as being sustainable, when they had come from Asian Pulp and Paper (APP) a mob that has a dubious environmental record in Indonesia. I’m sorry, environment and Indonesia in the same sentence? And from a mob that had Chinese forestry holdings that were an environmental disgrace too. Beyond suss!

Sustainably caught tuna? I don’t think so – not yet anyway.  Does it still take 12 kilos of pelletised wild-caught fish to bring a farmed salmon to market?  What is the sustainable provenance of  most seafood you buy? Ask the sustainability question, see if you get a suss answer.

Sustainability has become so ridiculously overworked and mutated in its usage, I doubt that many people really understand what it means. Corporate Social Responsibility, devours sustainability opportunities where ever it can. It’s ravenous in the big end of town where chest-beating and comparing willies is a pin-stripe preoccupation. Sustainability in the banking sector? More suss. In fact world shattering suss – if the Global Financial Crisis is any indication of sustainable responsible investment.

It’s a pity the MSC can’t certify some of the greenwashed corporate sharks out there.


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