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Peer-Review Record

Evaluation of an Educational Campaign to Improve the Conscious Consumption of Recreationally Caught Fish

Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 700; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030700
Reviewer 1: Madhavi Venkatesan
Reviewer 2: Pascal Frank
Reviewer 3: Anonymous
Reviewer 4: Anonymous
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 700; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030700
Received: 17 December 2018 / Revised: 25 January 2019 / Accepted: 27 January 2019 / Published: 29 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conscious Consumption)

Round  1

Reviewer 1 Report

Well written, interesting paper. The paper provides additional value in that it reviews an example of a stakeholder engagement strategy. I would suggest if any modification be made, that the stakeholder communications be further discussed and the any survey data specific to what methodologies for engagement were most successful be provided. Additionally, the paper could benefit from a more explicit definition of the value of conscious consumption as an attribution that includes eternalized costs in the consumption decision-making process.

Author Response

Point 1: Well written, interesting paper. The paper provides additional value in that it reviews an example of a stakeholder engagement strategy. I would suggest if any modification be made, that the stakeholder communications be further discussed and the any survey data specific to what methodologies for engagement were most successful be provided.

Response 1: See section 2.2 Surveys –information regarding interactions with anglers and the types of questions contained in the surveys was clarified with more detail. See lines 162-176.

Point 2: Additionally, the paper could benefit from a more explicit definition of the value of conscious consumptionas an attribution that includes eternalized costs in the consumption decision-making process.

Response 2: We attempt to outline the benefits of conscious consumption in this system in the first paragraph of the introduction on Lines 30-44. However, we agree that this was not explicitly stated as a conscious consumption effort, and so have clarified this with additional text on lines 36-37, 39-40, and 60. We have also included a more explicit literature review on conscious consumption of fish in general, per Reviewer 4’s suggestion (lines 45-56).


Author Response File: Author Response.docx

Reviewer 2 Report

In this study, in-person surveys of active shoreline anglers were carried out to assess the progress, strengths, and weaknesses of education and outreach efforts at the Detroit River aiming at improving “conscious consumption behaviors in areas where game fish are known to contain contaminants” (l. 10 – 11). Specifically, the authors claim to evaluate(1)the overall awareness of fish consumption guidelines among anglers,(2)their knowledge of what the guidelines contained, (3)which methods were most effective in implementing changes in behavior, and(4)potential environmental justice issues associated with either contamination exposure or the consumption guideline campaign itself (l. 100 – 103).

The article is dividedintofoursections. After introducing the topic (section 1), the authors provide some background on the educational programs under investigation as well as the the methods used to assess these educational programs(section 2). The study’s results are outlined in section 3, focusing on the citizens’ fish consumption (3.1) and their consumption guideline awareness (3.2). In section 4 (discussion), the results are interpreted and the overall effectiveness of the educational program and outreach efforts evaluated.

In conclusion, the authors find that the educational campaigns were acknowledged by the target population and had some (even though limited) effects on their fish consumption. Especially black anglers – allegedly the most vulnerable subgroup of the population under investigation – reported a shift toward less contaminated fish consumption. They infer that “utilizing multiple educational strategies including reaching out directly to individual anglers may improve conscious consumption behavior among the targeted population, providing a template for educational campaigns to successfully target vulnerable populations” (l.20 – 23).

Overall, I think that the submitted manuscript is worth being published insofar as some minor revisions are undertaken. In my opinion, this research is well conducted and of direct relevance for the public. It provides valuable insights for the educational campaigns and can help adapting the latter for future educational plans on this and other matters. However, I would suggest three amendments that would improve the quality of the article. Firstly, figure 3 seems a bit overloaded and clarity could be improved. Secondly, even though educating anglers on fish contamination is an important approach to the problem underlying the article, I am missing a more general problematization of the structural and political dimension leading to this situation. While such a reflection on the larger conditions leading to fish contamination are obviously not at the heart of this article, I do find that they should not be ignored in the entire article. I would suggest to dedicate a separate paragraph to this aspect in the discussion, emphasizing that fish contamination is a consequence of detrimental socio-structural and economic practices in the first place. Addressing these consequences solely by educating citizens about the contamination would be a neglection of these larger circumstances. Thirdly – and this is the major weakness of the paper – the article does not really do what it claims. When looking at the four interests outlined in the first paragraph, in fact, only (1) and (3) are addressed, as neither the knowledge of what the guidelines contained (2) nor the environmental justice issue (4) are to my opinion explicitly dealt with. This does not diminish the overall quality of the article, which remains relevant as written; however, I do think that the listing of the aims pursued in the paper should be precised so that misunderstandings about the actual content can be avoided.


Author Response

Point 1: Overall, I think that the submitted manuscript is worth being published insofar as some minor revisions are undertaken. In my opinion, this research is well conducted and of direct relevance for the public. It provides valuable insights for the educational campaigns and can help adapting the latter for future educational plans on this and other matters. However, I would suggest three amendments that would improve the quality of the article. Firstly, figure 3 seems a bit overloaded and clarity could be improved.

Response 1: A new version of Figure 3 has been inserted. Where possible, excess text was removed or shortened, individual graphs were reorganized, legends were combined or condensed, and spacing was adjusted.


Point 2: Secondly, even though educating anglers on fish contamination is an important approach to the problem underlying the article, I am missing a more general problematization of the structural and political dimension leading to this situation. While such a reflection on the larger conditions leading to fish contamination are obviously not at the heart of this article, I do find that they should not be ignored in the entire article. I would suggest to dedicate a separate paragraph to this aspect in the discussion, emphasizing that fish contamination is a consequence of detrimental socio-structural and economic practices in the first place.

Response 2:  We have carefully considered this comment, and we do not fully agree with the statement as presented but agree with the sentiment. Fish contamination is not a direct consequence of detrimental socio-structural and economic practices- it is a consequence of industrialization and widespread chemical contamination (text has been added to reflect this history – lines 32-34). We do fully believe that environmental justice issues have arisen in areas such as Detroit, as the need for subsistence fishing is linked to detrimental socio-structural and economic practices on regions like this. However, we feel it is well beyond the scope of this paper to address the political dimensions that lead to this situation (as the reviewer rightfully identified). We feel a single paragraph could not do this problem justice- and therefore feel it is beyond the scope of this paper. 


Point 3: Addressing these consequences solely by educating citizens about the contamination would be a neglection of these larger circumstances. Thirdly – and this is the major weakness of the paper – the article does not really do what it claims. When looking at the four interests outlined in the first paragraph, in fact, only (1) and (3) are addressed, as neither the knowledge of what the guidelines contained (2) nor the environmental justice issue (4) are to my opinion explicitly dealt with. This does not diminish the overall quality of the article, which remains relevant as written; however, I do think that the listing of the aims pursued in the paper should be precised so that misunderstandings about the actual content can be avoided.

Response 3: For the aim surrounding the “knowledge of what the guidelines contained” (2), we have clarified to more accurately reflect our analyses. Our survey was designed to discover whether anglers had any knowledge about contamination and serving size recommendations, regardless of whether or not they were aware of the campaign itself. In this sense, the aim was not whether they were familiar with the contents of the guidelines, but only whether they were familiar with the information (e.g., they may have gotten information from family or friends, not the campaign materials). The text describing this aim (lines 121-122) has been clarified to reflect this distinction. Further, additional data has been described which more explicitly addresses this question (lines 263-265, 278-279, and 357-360). Specifically, the anglers answered whether or not they were aware of health hazards from chemicals in the fish, and whether they knew about the need for people to limit their consumption. These questions were independent of the questions addressing whether anglers were aware of the official advisory campaign.

The reviewer also correctly pointed out that another of our aims (4) regarding environmental justice issues was not directly addressed by our analyses. This aim was meant to reflect our investigation of environmental justice issues associated with the educational campaign itself (whether educational materials were reaching a biased subset of the angler population) rather than the environmental justice issues surrounding contamination in general. We feel this specific aspect of environmental justice (in our educational program) was adequately addressed through our analysis of the demographics of the anglers surveyed, how that corresponded to survey responses, and the comparison to the 2010 Detroit census data. To clarify this use of the term ‘environmental justice’ to apply explicitly to our survey, we have revised the language used to describe the aims of this paper. New text is on lines 124-125.


Reviewer 3 Report

Dear Authors,

The topic of your paper is interesting and suitable for the journal. Please take into account the suggestions mentioned below.

Title should be connected to the objective of the paper. Now, it suggests that you want to improve the Conscious Consumption of Fish Through an Educational Campaign or to investigate how it was improved through the educational campaign. Please adjust the title.

L 98-99 “…of an educational outreach program…” What program? The one described above or other one? Please explain.

“The overall objective of this study was to assess the progress, strengths, and weaknesses of an educational outreach program”. Please highlight strengths and weaknesses in the text.

L 102-103 “potential environmental justice issues associated with either contamination exposure or the consumption guideline campaign itself.” Please mention the potential environmental justice issues in the manuscript. Make sure that all points mentioned as objectives are presented in results, discussions and conclusions.

If you have an objective related to environmental justice, you should focus more on the concept: explain it, show why it is relevant for analyzed situation, explain what are the aspects connected to it in studied area, etc.

Please mention the novelty of your research.

Please include a paragraph on limitations and suggestions for future studies.

Please include a “Conclusion” section, possibly by reorganizing the Discussion section.


Author Response

Point 1: Title should be connected to the objective of the paper. Now, it suggests that you want to improve the Conscious Consumption of Fish Through an Educational Campaign or to investigate how it was improved through the educational campaign. Please adjust the title.

Response 1: The title has been changed (lines 1-5)  to more accurately reflect the goal of this study, which was to determine the effectiveness of a campaign aimed at improving conscious consumption (rather than this study improving conscious consumption itself).

Point 2:  L 98-99 “…of an educational outreach program…” What program? The one described above or other one? Please explain.

Response 2: Additional text was added to clarify (lines 118-119).

Point 3: “The overall objective of this study was to assess the progress, strengths, and weaknesses of an educational outreach program”. Please highlight strengths and weaknesses in the text.

Response 3: A Conclusions section was added to the Discussion. This paragraph discusses strengths and weaknesses of this study on lines 409-412.

Point 4:  L 102-103 “potential environmental justice issues associated with either contamination exposure or the consumption guideline campaign itself.” Please mention the potential environmental justice issues in the manuscript. Make sure that all points mentioned as objectives are presented in results, discussions and conclusions. If you have an objective related to environmental justice, you should focus more on the concept: explain it, show why it is relevant for analyzed situation, explain what are the aspects connected to it in studied area, etc.

Response 4: Per Reviewer 2’s comments, the objectives of this study have been clarified and additional information has been included to more explicitly address the aims, particularly those surrounding environmental justice concerns.

Point 5: Please mention the novelty of your research.

Response 5: A paragraph was added to the new Conclusions section. Lines 412-417 note the novelty of this research.

Point 6: Please include a paragraph on limitations and suggestions for future studies.

Response 6: The new paragraph in the Conclusions section includes the limitations of this study (lines 419-426). Lines 417-425 include suggestions for future studies.

Point 7: Please include a “Conclusion” section, possibly by reorganizing the Discussion section.

Response 7: The discussion has been reorganized to accommodate a Conclusions section. This section begins on line 405.


Reviewer 4 Report

The paper presents an interesting problem of conscious fish consumption.  The authors show the research background in detail, its results and make readers aware of the importance of the issue. It is very significant not only for the investigated local community, but also for other populations inhabiting river or lake banks. Moreover, the research and article design is correct.  

In my opinion, the paper would gain in value, if the authors supplemented the literature review with the references concerning theory of consumption, consumer behaviour, prosumerism etc.

I also suggest that the authors should improve the scientific soundness of the paper by indicating the significance of the research for the science development (review of the above mentioned literature will be helpful) as well as putting research questions and/or hypotheses.

Furthermore, in the conclusions, the recommendations for the campaigns designers should be more precise, targeting different social and demographic groups, if the paper is supposed to be used as a guideline or template for advisory or campaign designers.  The paper could also indicate the directions for further investigations development in the field of conscious fish consumption in Detroit and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, my evaluation of the paper is high.


Author Response

Point 1: In my opinion, the paper would gain in value, if the authors supplemented the literature review with the references concerning theory of consumption, consumer behaviour, prosumerism etc.

Response 1: Additional literature review was added to clarify the significance of fish consumption, the challenges in addressing consumer behavior, and the role of subsistence fishing (prosumerism). New text on lines 45-56.

Point 2: I also suggest that the authors should improve the scientific soundness of the paper by indicating the significance of the research for the science development (review of the above mentioned literature will be helpful) as well as putting research questions and/or hypotheses.

Response 2: The significance of this study including its strengths, weaknesses, and novelty are now highlighted in the new paragraph in the Conclusions section on 406-426. We also include suggestions on how to use this study to assist the design of future similar studies (a further contribution of this study to the field).

Point 3: Furthermore, in the conclusions, the recommendations for the campaigns designers should be more precise, targeting different social and demographic groups, if the paper is supposed to be used as a guideline or template for advisory or campaign designers.  

Response 3: The additional paragraph in the Conclusions section now reflects a more explicit discussion of the recommendations for future studies. Relevant text is on lines 417-425. Recommendations for targeting specific social and demographic groups appears on 408-414.

Point 4: The paper could also indicate the directions for further investigations development in the field of conscious fish consumption in Detroit and elsewhere.

Response 4: Suggestions for future studies are now included in the first paragraph of the Conclusions section on 417-425.


Round  2

Reviewer 3 Report

Dear Authors,

The manuscript has improved. However, please address this issue:

Please move the novelty at the beginning of your paper.

Author Response

Response to Reviewer 3 Comments

Point 1: Please move the novelty at the beginning of your paper.

Response 1: Text discussion the novelty of this research has been added to the end of the introduction (lines 124-129).


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