In the United States and the United Kingdom, over the last decade major retail chains have increasingly publicized their efforts to supply sustainably sourced and eco-labelled seafood. Debate exists over the extent of consumer demand for this product. Seafood eco-labels purportedly resolve the information asymmetry between producer and consumer, allowing consumers who care about sustainability to easily find and purchase these products. This paper discusses the idealized model of seafood eco-labelling in promoting sustainability and presents results of US and UK case studies based on consumer interviews and surveys, which found that consumers had often seen one or more seafood eco-labels. Two well-established eco-labels, dolphin-safe and organic, drove these rates of sustainable seafood awareness. These rates are interpreted in the context of consumer’s understanding of sustainable. The Sustainable Seafood Movement’s efforts to increase the supply of eco-labelled seafood and elaborate corporate buying policies for sustainable seafood are influencing consumer’s recognition and purchase of certified sustainable seafood products. However, eco-labels are a means to communicate messages about sustainable fisheries to consumers, not an end. Efforts to educate consumers about eco-labels should be a component of ocean literacy efforts, which educate the public about the need for sustainable fisheries.
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