Greenpeace retail report due

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
March 18, 2009

Greenpeace is updating a report grading and ranking U.S. retailers according to their sustainable seafood purchasing policies; the report is due to be re-released in June.
 
Originally released in June 2008, "Carting Away the Oceans: How Grocery Stores are Emptying the Seas" failed all 20 retailers it surveyed because they weren't doing enough to promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
 
Greenpeace updated and re-released the report in early December, this time giving four supermarket chains - Whole Foods, Ahold USA, Target and Harris Teeter - a passing grade for strengthening their sustainable seafood purchasing policies.
 
The report failed the remaining 16 retailers on the list. They were, in order from highest to lowest, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Wegmans, Kroger, Aldi, Costco, A&P, Giant Eagle, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Delhaize, Supervalu, Trader Joe's, Meijer, H.E. Butt and Price Chopper.
 
Yesterday, the National Fisheries Institute issued an e-mail alert warning retailers that Greenpeace is again distributing sustainable seafood questionnaires. "Engagement with Greenpeace is a perilous proposition," the release said. "History has proven that cooperation and interaction only leads to increasingly unreasonable demands."
 
Greenpeace USA spokesman John Hocevar today told SeafoodSource that the activist organization is in the process of sending out and gathering the questionnaires.
 
"Most retailers are being pretty forthcoming," he said. "There's definitely more awareness of sustainable seafood. Even the retailers that aren't progressing are definitely more aware of the issue."
 
Hocevar said he expects the gap between retailers who are implementing sustainable seafood purchasing policies and retailers who aren't to grow when the report is re-released.
 
Similar reports have been released in 10 countries, mostly in North America and Europe, noted Hocevar. In the reports, Greenpeace lambasted retailers for selling "red list" species it says are harvested or farmed in an unsustainable and environmentally destructive manner, including Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, Chilean sea bass, swordfish and bigeye, bluefin and yellowfin tuna.
 
NFI said yesterday that many red list species are certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council and other independent organizations, and that the reports fail to capture the attention of consumers. The industry group has also warned in the past that Greenpeace will shift from activism to vandalism if it does not get its way.
 
In November, Greenpeace littered eight Toronto-area Loblaws stores with yellow crime scene tape and posters that read, "caught red-handed selling red list fish." The eco-activist group claimed Canada's largest supermarket chain sold 14 red list species.

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