Costco updates sustainable seafood policy

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
February 24, 2011

Greenpeace-USA on Thursday announced that Costco Wholesale Corp. has revised its sustainable seafood purchasing policy, and, as a result, the environmental activist organization has suspended the campaign it launched against the club-store chain last year.

According to Greenpeace, Costco has eliminated from its 580-plus stores 12 species that Greenpeace says are harvested in an environmentally unfriendly manner — Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, Greenland halibut, grouper, monkfish, orange roughy, redfish, shark, skates and rays, swordfish and bluefin tuna. These dozen species will not return to stores unless Costco can find a Marine Stewardship Council-certified option, said Greenpeace.

Costco has also pledged to pursue aquaculture certification for its farmed salmon and shrimp, two of its best sellers, reported Greenpeace.

“This new policy is a sign of tremendous progress, and we are indebted to the thousands of Greenpeace supporters who told Costco they wanted to buy sustainable seafood,” said Casson Trenor, senior markets campaigner for Greenpeace. “While there is still a long way to go, we are very pleased with the steps that Costco has taken and their ongoing commitments.”

Trenor made the announcement on Thursday in a blog posted to the Greenpeace-USA website.

Costco is likely to improve its ranking on Greenpeace’s annual Carting Away the Oceans sustainable seafood report, the next edition of which is due in April. The Issaquah, Wash.-based company also ranked poorly in Greenpeace’s similar “Taking Stock” report in Canada. Following the report’s release, Greenpeace activists targeted the retailer. For example, in June, a handful of activists draped a longline and a banner that read “Costco Wholesale Ocean Destruction” over a downtown Vancouver store.

The Greenpeace press release also included a comment from Jeff Lyons, Costco’s senior VP. He said, “It is important that the items we offer our customers are those that we can continue to provide well into the future and to provide responsibly. Our policy will help us to continue to meet the demands of our customers, who look to us for high quality items at great value.”

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