“Sustainable Seafood in Singapore” – Marina Bay Sands online case study

“Sustainable Seafood in Singapore” – Marina Bay Sands online case study


– [Narrator] 2:00 a.m. on a Friday morning, while the rest of Singapore sleeps, the sprawling Jurong wholesale market is at its busiest. (motor running) Seafood arrives by road and rail from neighboring Malaysia, by boat from other parts of Southeast Asia, by air from many other parts of the world. Here the seafood is auctioned off to neighborhood markets, super markets, and food service distributors. Singaporeans are great lovers of seafood. A population of just five and a half million, plus visitors to the island, devour at least 120 million kilograms, 260 million pounds of seafood a year. But there’s a problem. The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that 3 out of 4 species sold here are not responsibly caught. There are many factors to consider beyond the species stock levels. – How is the fish caught? What kind of fishing method is applied? Is it a disruptive fishing method? Like cyanide or bottom trawling? What is the by-catch of that? And how are the fish stocks doing? Can they recover or are we already taking out juvenile fish and possibly disrupting the whole population? – [Narrator] To try to steer Singaporeans away from it’s red list of seafood to be avoided the WWF has produced a sustainable seafood guide. Consumers are becoming more aware. For instance increasing the shunning shark’s fin, the WWF believes it’s important to target bigger fish like retailers, hotels, restaurants, and traders. And in Singapore they don’t come bigger. The Marina Bay Sands Casino & Resort, which serves some 4 million pieces of seafood a year. WWF has teamed up with the resort with the aim of insuring that by 2020 100% of it’s top ten seafood items and half their total usage will be from sources certified as sustainable. – We’re big and we’re unwieldy and it can be hard. It’s just hard anytime you have those kind of scales to overcome. So, you have nine and half thousand employees that you need to build awareness with and you need to educate, and hopefully, that you need to make passionate about sustainability. We have 45 million people who pass through the building on an annual basis. So trying to encourage those visitors to behave in a more sustainable manner, to make more sustainable choices takes time. – [Narrator] Marina Bay Sands had already long stopped serving shark’s fin. And since March 2017 it has also stopped serving another popular fish, the Red Grouper or Coral Trout, which WWF rates as highly vulnerable. The fish is particularly prized for weddings due to it’s taste and it’s color which is considered auspicious. Marina Bay Sands has strived to convince it’s customers and tenants to go along with the bans. – We believed that it would not have a meaningful, negative impact on our business. Meaning that we thought that there would be more consumers that would support us as a result than there would be the consumers that might leave us. On the convention side we lost a couple weddings, we lost a couple big events, but that was just in year one. Subsequent years it started to become normal we didn’t.. And we.. Our business continued to grow from there. – Couples in their 20’s to 30’s they are more receptive to changes. They are more receptive that we are not serving shark’s fin. We’re not serving Red Grouper. It’s really when the parents are paying for the banquet. Then the parents are the one that we need to spend a little bit more time and effort to explain to them why we’re going to these initiatives. (upbeat music) – [Narrator] WWF says it’s collaboration with Marina Bay Sands is more than just symbolic. – By MBS bringing in more responsible seafood and more sustainable seafood into the market it becomes easier for other restaurants, for other retailers, for other shops to go to the same sources or go to the same suppliers. And technically, so it’s going to increase the availability of sustainable product in Singapore. – [Narrator] Marina Bay Sands says it sees clear benefits too. – And I think the days of greenwashing are, I’d like to hope, behind us. Or at least customers are asking far more pointed questions and looking for third party certifications which give you far more validity in terms of your assertions that you are a sustainable, responsible operation and that you’re truly committed to the environment. – [Narrator] And while consumer attitudes may be starting to shift. Whether a fish is sustainably caught is not always the main concern of many. – The more affluent, more educated ones may want to know more. But if you are asking someone who is not well to do, questions like this, if origin matters to them, I would say no. I think cost will matter more to them because it’s about affordability. I mean if they can’t put food on the table I don’t think they worry that much about where the fish comes from. (upbeat music) – [Narrator] But as plummeting demand for shark fin has shown, it is possible to change the attitudes of consumers And in turn hotels and restaurants, to make them more aware of the origins of the seafood they consume and the consequences of consuming it. And perhaps helping ensure people might be able to enjoy their favorite seafood dishes for generations to come. For Yale School of Management I’m Rian Maelzer in Singapore. (electronic noises)

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