Task 1B: Exploratory Research – Gaining Insight into People’s Understanding, Attitudes, and Preferences


Overfishing: occurs when fish are caught faster than they can replenish/replace themselves through natural reproduction

  • Damage to ecosystems and balance of ocean life
    • Removal of essential predators
    • Poor coral reef health
    • Growth of algae
  • More than 1 billion people worldwide rely on fish as their primary source of protein – coastal communities (social well-being)
    • Threat to local food sources
  • Fishing is the principal livelihood for millions of people (economic well-being)
    • Financial losses (for communities that rely on low-level fishing industries)
  • Bycatch – when unwanted sea life is accidentally captured while fishing for a different species
    • Unintended catches
  • More than 1 billion people worldwide rely on fish as their primary source of protein
  • According to the United Nations, 17% of fish stocks worldwide are currently overexploited, 52% are fully exploited, and 7% are depleted -> nearly 80% of the world’s fisheries are at or above their capacity (fully-exploited, over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse)
  • About 90% of large predatory fish stocks are already gone – overfishing has targeted fish at the top of the food chain
  • Pacfic Herring – catches dropped by 71% since the 1960s
  • Atlantic Herring – catches dropped by 63%
  • Atlantic Cod – catches dropped by 69%
  • Commercial fishing has quadrupled in the last 50 years, totalling 8.7 million tons annually, and continues to grow
  • If overfishing continues at its current rate, the world will run out of seafood in 2048
  • Solution – buying seafood from sustainable sources (eg. Marine Stewardship Council – promotes the best environmental choice in seafood through better product certification and eco-labelling)



1. How often would you say you consume fish products on a regular basis? (eg. fried/grilled fish, sashimi sushi, etc.)
Most respondents stated that they eat fish occasionally, sometimes around 1-2 times a week, and sometimes less. A couple respondents were vegetarian or vegan, and thus do not eat fish products. One of the respondents was pescetarian, meaning they do not eat meat, with the exception of fish, and they eat fish products up to three or four times a week.
2. Are you aware of the issue of overfishing?
Most respondents were aware of the term ‘overfishing,’ but did not think it was a major issue, or rather, they did not feel that they could make any difference in resolving this issue and so do not make much effort to do so. 
3. Based on your own knowledge, what is ‘overfishing’?
All respondents said that the word ‘overfishing’ was relatively self-explanatory, saying that they thought it meant simply “fishing too much” or “catching too many fish which causes imbalances in the ecosystem.” In general, it seemed that the respondents who had diet restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, or pescetarian) were more informed regarding the environmental impact of overfishing. 
4. When you buy fish/fish products, is the issue of endangered fish or overfishing something you consider?
Most respondents said that they don’t consider the issue of overfishing when buying fish products; they simply think about whether they crave it or if they need it for a dish that they are cooking. However the respondents who were vegan, vegetarian, and pescetarian stated that they had done research on the topic previously, when making the transition to their diet change.
5. Are you aware of the species of fish that are currently endangered? If so, which ones?
Almost all the respondents were quite unsure of all the specific species of fish that are currently endangered. Some had no idea, while some were aware of a few species such as Atlantic Cod or Atlantic Salmon. 
6. What do you think could be done as a consumer to make a difference regarding this issue?
Most respondents were unsure what difference they could make besides reducing their intake of fish in general. Some said to reduce their intake of fish that are endangered as a result of overfishing.
7. Is this an issue that you would be willing to actively take part in reducing if you were properly informed and had the resources to do so? For instance, would you be willing to change your habits on fish consumption (eg. consuming less fish, buying alternative species of fish that aren’t as endangered)
Some said they would be willing to try it, but are not sure how long they would be able to keep it up as it is hard to change habits/mindsets that they’ve had their whole lives.

8. What is the first thing you notice about each of these posters/what stands out? What do you like about it (if any)? What do you not like (if any)?
On the left, the fishing nets and fish were what most people noticed first, and on the right, people first saw the man fishing, then all the trash in the water. In general, people liked the colours on the left poster as well as the cute illustration, and on the right, people liked the bold and clear statement. However on the left poster, people felt it could have included more/clearer information, because though it is easy to get the gist of the poster, it doesn’t contain enough info for people to feel a huge impact from it. 
9. Can you tell what each poster is trying to illustrate/say from a first glance?
As was mentioned in the question before, people were able to get the gists of both posters fairly quickly, but both could have contained more information. The left poster could have elaborated on their statement or stated a statistic that would make people feel like the issue was actually real, and the right poster could have included info on what readers could do with that info. In other words, what difference does the poster make to the reader? How can it impact them to do something about it?
10. If you saw these posters on the street, would you stop to read/observe them? Why or why not?
Most respondents said they would stop to read the posters, but then quickly move on as the info does not seem quite relevant to them.



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