A survey has found only a third of Kiwis know that fish is the most sustainable meat, while three in ten New Zealanders are unsure which meat is made using the least greenhouse gas emissions.
In response, New Zealand’s largest deepwater fishing company, Sealord, has launched a new project; Seas Matter. The initiative seeks to educate Kiwis about the health and sustainability of wild-caught New Zealand fish.
Sealord CEO Doug Paulin says science shows fish has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any meat protein.
“It’s the most sustainable meat you can buy and is also one of the most nutritious.
“One serving of wild-caught New Zealand fish provides 20 times more key nutrients per unit of CO2 than a serving of beef or lamb.
“When we selectively fish from the ocean, we don’t need to clear land, and we don’t need to use pesticides, fertiliser, or much freshwater.”
Paulin says documentaries like the Netflix Seaspiracy and local campaigns from anti commercial fishing groups like Greenpeace have muddied the waters.
“Seaspiracy brought to light global issues like illegal fishing, and unmonitored fisheries in places like China.
“But it also unfairly tainted beliefs about Aotearoa’s fisheries. New Zealand’s fisheries are consistently recognised in the top-five most sustainable globally, because of our world-leading quota system and extremely low trawl footprint.”
New Zealanders generally see fish as more sustainable than other meats, but there is uncertainty.
A survey done by Seas Matter asked Kiwis which meat produced the least carbon emissions to get to their plates. 35% of New Zealanders correctly selected fish as the most sustainable meat protein, while a similar number (30%) didn’t know. The rest selected either Chicken (22%), Beef (8%), Lamb (3%), or Pork (2%).
“We know people are caring more about the sustainability of what they eat, but there’s clearly confusion about which food is best.
“The Seas Matter project tells people that if you want to reduce the carbon footprint of the meat you eat, choosing wild-caught New Zealand fish is best, period.”
Although misinformation about fishing methods like bottom trawling is likely to persist, Paulin says he knows New Zealanders can pick fact from fiction.
Research commissioned by Sealord last year found just 8% of New Zealanders want a complete ban on bottom trawling of seamounts, including only 7% of Green Party voters.
“New Zealand’s restrictions on bottom trawling are very progressive by world standards. We only trawl 3% of our ocean territory (the 6th largest territory in the world) and go back to the same grounds year after year. In addition, Sealord supports the permanent closure to trawling of seamounts that have never previously been fished.
“Most people are generally realistic about the environmental impact of food – they know we must eat something, and they know everything we eat has an impact. For comparison, 37% of New Zealand’s land mass has been converted to farmland.
“The fishing industry is always innovating and working with government to lower the impact of bottom trawling, which is currently the most efficient and economical way to catch many of the species we eat.”
For more information, please visit www.seasmatter.co.nz/science
 Clarity Insight poll June 2023 of 1003 New Zealanders, reflective of national age and gender demographics. Commissioned by Seas Matter.
 Poll conducted by Curia Research from 3 August to 11 August, 2022. A total of 1,200 eligible New Zealand voters agreed to participate, with a maximum sampling error of +/- 2.8 per cent.