Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Peter Newton

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

John Lynch


Marine fish stocks and associated ecosystems are currently in a grave state, with 90 percent of worldwide fisheries considered fully fished or overfished. Due to policy and legislation proving timely and expensive, a market-based solution is needed to expedite sustainable change. Unfortunately, eco-labels, such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Dolphin Safe have not been effective in eliciting a greater consumer willingness to pay (WTP) for sustainable products. I distributed an online experimental survey to over 529 U.S. consumers to test whether providing concise, explanatory information on product packaging would elicit a higher WTP than products that just contained the traditional MSC label. In addition, I tested how environmental attitude, industry knowledge, and socio-demographic characteristics influence WTP. I found that there was no difference in WTP among products whose packaging included only a traditional MSC label, explanatory information, or a combination of the two. In contrast, environmental attitude played a significant role in predicting WTP: the more pro-environmental a consumer’s attitude was, the more they were WTP for sustainable shrimp and salmon products. Like many other studies have found, product price was a main barrier in WTP. Improving consumers’ environmental attitudes while focusing marketing campaigns on consumers that already hold pro-environmental attitudes may help boost sales and demand for sustainable seafood products, helping expedite vital sustainable change to the commercial fishing industry.