Think Fish Week, National Seafood Week angle to hook Europeans on seafood
The end of September and beginning of October are traditional times for national seafood celebrations in the northern hemisphere, and this year is no exception.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) have just finished celebrating their Think Fish Week (23 to 29 September, 2019) awareness campaigns in the Netherlands and Belgium. This popular event, which helps to raise public awareness about the role of certified seafood in helping to preserve our oceans, lakes, and rivers, has extended its reach and popularity during the seven years the two organizations have been running it.
“We aim to create a fun but educational environment that allows consumers to engage with our messaging, and to help them make conscious purchasing choices year-round, by knowing which on-pack logos they can trust when it comes to responsible seafood,” ASC Commercial Director Esther Luiten told SeafoodSource.
The Think Fish Week campaigns involved 55 partner supermarkets, fish suppliers, fish retailers, top brands, restaurants, and food chains, in a host of events and promotions.
There were also radio commercials in the Netherlands, and food trucks sampling a variety of sustainable species in Brussels and Antwerp. An information stand was stationed at Antwerp Zoo, where MSC and ASC personnel engaged with consumers, especially those with young children, to reinforce the sustainability messages.
To help promote the week and the activities of individual stores, a press lunch was held in Belgium and a bloggers lunch in the Netherlands. The two official hashtags for the week in French and Dutch were #semainedelapecheresponsable and #bewustevisweek.
This year, Think Fish Week turned to the new breed of social media influencers, to help promote the idea of making sustainable fish-shaped sandwiches, known as vistolet. The influencers were encouraged to buy sustainably certified seafood, make their own vistolet, and post pictures and recipes online.
An influencers campaign was also run in collaboration with the Belgian Parent friendly website Maison Slash, which fully embraced the vistolet idea as a way to make eating responsible fish fun.
“Maison Slash has jumped on the fish cart and given you three crazy but good vistolet ideas using shrimp, smoked salmon, and fish fingers. We challenge you as parents to find your own ultimate vistolet recipes and to share them on your social media channels using #vistolet to spread the word,” according to the website.
It also reminded parents already shopping responsibly that buying sustainable seafood is possible and an important addition to a healthy diet.
In the United Kingdom, National Seafood Week, which took place 4 to 11 October, was coordinated by U.K. seafood authority Seafish under its consumer brand Fish is the Dish. The event has become an annual campaign that has grown significantly in recent years. Its aim is to celebrate the wide variety of fish and shellfish available in the U.K. and to get people eating more fish, more often. “Change the way you ‘sea’food” was the campaign slogan for this year.
For the past few years Seafood Week has kicked off with a social media promotion entitled #fishpunday, which perennially gains media attention. For example, one fish shop tweeted asking customers to send in their favorite fish-puns.
“Come on, help us Live the Bream this Friday … but make sure they’re sofishticated! Or do you need some time to mullet over?!”
Julie Waites, Seafish’s regional manager for London and southeast England, opened the celebrations at London’s famous Billingsgate Fish Market.
“I have been working with Billingsgate for the past six months and was delighted to help bring Seafood Week 2019 here and to have the opportunity to help build awareness and consumption of seafood. The fish traders, the Seafood School which is based at the market, and even the maintenance and security staff, all got on board and supported the celebrations. We all had great fun and from day one there was a real buzz on the market, so we aim to build on the activities over the next year,” she told SeafoodSource.
Seafood producers, processers, retailers, food service providers and independents enthusiastically organize their own promotions, competitions and events. Participants are encouraged to share their ideas and stories about the ways in which consumers can buy, cook, and dine out on great seafood, using their own marketing and communication channels, and the social media links @fishisthedish and #SeafoodWeek.
The health benefits of eating seafood were high on the list of messaging for 2019 and a different species was featured by the campaign each day, with suggested promotions for mackerel, prawns, plaice, scallops, mussels, hake, crab, haddock, and pollock.
Meanwhile, the United States is well into its annual National Seafood Month, which according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the perfect time to celebrate the country being recognized as a global leader in sustainable wild-caught and farmed seafood. Throughout the month, NOAA is publishing science features, culinary Q&As, seafood videos and a podcast and is encouraging people to join in on social media using #SeafoodMonth.
Photo courtesy of Aquaculture Stewardship Council