Greenpeace protests at Spanish supermarkets


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
April 6, 2009

As part of its sustainable seafood campaign, Greenpeace took to the streets of 19 Spanish cities on 4 April, promoting its message on two-sided postcards signed by 2,436 shoppers.

Launched last week, the campaign targets major supermarket chains, including Alcampo and French retailer Carrefour. Shoppers outside the stores were asked to "Choose your fish well - don't take the bait!" and pledge to support sustainable seafood by signing the postcards and giving them to store managers.

The campaign draws attention to Greenpeace-Spain's red list of 15 seafood species it claims are harvested or raised in an environmentally destructive, unsustainable manner: angler, tuna, Atlantic cod, whale, hake, black hake, Atlantic halibut, black halibut, flounder, ocean perch/red fish, Atlantic salmon, king prawn, sole, swordfish and manta rays.

The postcard reads translated: "Dear Director, The situation regarding the planet's seas and oceans is very worrying. Your supermarket counters are full of fish products whose origin cannot be sustainable. It worries me that in this supermarket it is still possible to buy species of fish which are exploited and/or captured using fishing methods that destroy marine biodiversity. As a client of this establishment, I consider that all fishing products on sale should follow sustainable practices. For that reason I ask you to develop and implement policies of sustainable purchase of fishing products in the quickest possible time. I would like to be kept informed about the actions taken in relation to the development of this policy."

The campaign was launched at a Alcampo store in Madrid. A huge banner that said "Alcampo Destroying the Oceans" and a large inflated black fishbone were draped across the storefront.

Among the 19 cities targeted, five Greenpeace volunteers protested outside a Carrefour store in Málaga. Store Manager Jordi Campos Sempere declined to comment on the campaign's impact on seafood sales, referring all enquiries to their company's communications department, which was unavailable for comment at press time.

"This was an opportunity to inform not only the supermarkets but also their customers about where their fish products actually come from," said Ángel Ramajo, Greenpeace's volunteer coordinator in Málaga. "Customers want to buy seafood but they want it from sustainable sources. By signing the postcards, customers make a commitment to this policy and make an impression on the store that it should act soon by following a sustainable policy and showing that they care where their fish is sourced."

When asked if the campaign would prompt retailers to sell only sustainable seafood products, Ramajo responded: "Our action is a start. This would be a big change for the supermarkets, and it will take time. But we hope to see results in less than six months."

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