Greenpeace Report Rebukes Retailers' Seafood Purchasing Policies

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
June 16, 2008

Supervalu, Trader Joe's, Meijer, H.E. Butt, Price Chopper and Publix are among the 20 U.S. supermarket chains at the bottom of a list Greenpeace released today ranking retailers according to their sustainable seafood purchasing policies.

In the report, titled "Carting Away the Oceans: How Grocery Stores are Emptying the Seas," the eco-activist group says most retailers aren't doing nearly enough to implement sustainable seafood purchasing policies and thus protect the marine environment.

However, some retailers are developing comprehensive sustainable seafood purchasing policies and beginning to remove imperiled species from their seafood cases, says Greenpeace. Whole Foods Market, Ahold USA, Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Wal-Mart and Target are at the top of the list. But even the highest scoring retailers (Whole Foods, Ahold and Harris Teeter) received just four out of 10 possible points.

The report uses a 10-point rating system based on a survey of retailers' seafood purchasing policies, support for sustainability initiatives, labeling and transparency, and the number of "red list" species they carry.

Alaska pollock, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sea scallops, hoki, orange roughy, red snapper, swordfish and bigeye and yellowfin tuna are among the 22 species on the red list because they are unsustainably or destructively fished or farmed, says Greenpeace.

"The report is a way to assess the overall state of the seafood sector. It provides information for retailers looking to improve their [sustainable seafood purchasing policies]," says Greenpeace spokesman John Hocevar, who's attending the Food Marketing Institute Sustainability Summit in Minneapolis, where he's presenting the report to FMI's Sustainability Task Force.

Even the retailers who scored poorly are interested in improving their [sustainable seafood purchasing policies]," says Hocevar. "They're interested [in sustainability], they just haven't gotten around to their seafood cases yet."

Trade groups such as Salmon of the Americas and the National Fisheries Institute call the report misleading and alarmist.

"Their misleading information and agenda-driven ideals create consumer uncertainty despite the vast improvements and strictly regulated industry of salmon aquaculture," says SOTA in a press release today.

"Unfortunately, as we suspected, it is merely another example of Greenpeace's failure to responsibly engage the seafood community in a constructive dialog about sustainability," says NFI. "The report is riddled with erroneous information and alarmist language."

"NFI is missing the boat," replies Hocevar. "What we're saying is what the scientists are saying - that fish stocks are in serious trouble. NFI seems to be taking the approach of business as usual. But that's not what the science is showing."

The report is available at www.greenpeace.org/seafood.

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