Greenpeace: Canadian retailers fail on sustainability

Greenpeace on Friday ranked Canada’s major supermarkets for the second consecutive year on their sustainable seafood procurement policies and all of them failed to meet the group’s criteria.

“Out of Stock, Out of Excuses” was released at a news conference in Montreal. The environmental activist organization says that while some retailers made progress on providing sustainable seafood, others are ignoring the oceans crisis.

“Our analysis shows that major supermarket chains are still part of the problem of destroying our oceans and destroying seafood,” said Beth Hunter, Greenpeace oceans campaign coordinator. “Some of the chains have taken steps in the right direction, but bigger strides are needed to ensure fish for the future. Supermarkets are selling our oceans and themselves out of stock.”

The report ranks Canada’s eight major supermarket chains. Loblaw received the highest overall score of 2.4 (on a scale of 10) because it has released a sustainable seafood policy that would see the company selling only sustainable seafood by 2013. However, Greenpeace says its policy is short on detail and is not yet implemented.

The Metro chain received the lowest ranking of 0.1, partly because it has no plan to develop a sustainable seafood policy. It also sells 14 out of the 15 red list species, or species that are harvested by the most harmful fishing and farming practices. Greenpeace says Canada’s major chains sell between six and 14 of the 15 red list species.

Greenpeace is calling on the retailers to stop selling Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sea scallops, Chilean sea bass, haddock, hoki, swordfish and bigeye, bluefin and yellowfin tuna, among other species.

Other retailers ranked were Sobeys (1.1); Wal-Mart (1.0); Overwaitea (0.9); Federated Co-Operatives (0.9); Costco (0.7); and Safeway (0.3). Greenpeace assessed each retailer’s sustainable seafood policy, origin and harvest-method labeling practices, whether it had a traceability plan in place and its promotional efforts regarding sustainable fisheries.

“Metro and several other supermarkets seem to find it acceptable to sell seafood that is overexploited, illegally fished or destructively farmed,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace oceans campaigner. “They are making no effort to protect the oceans. There is an urgent need for all supermarkets to heed the message of our campaign: Don’t buy, don’t sell Redlist fish.”

Greenpeace has also twice ranked major grocery chains in the United States. It’s first ranking, released in June 2008, failed the 20 major retailers it surveyed; in its second round of assessments in December 2008, only Whole Foods Market, Ahold USA, Harris Teeter and Target received passing grades.

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