Trader Joe’s stops selling Mexican shrimp after pressure from NGOs

Published on
October 13, 2017

U.S. retailer Trader Joe’s is opting not to purchase shrimp from Mexico, following a campaign by conservation groups to raise awareness of the plight of the vaquita.

The Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign, made up of a coalition of environmental groups including the Animal Welfare Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity, was launched earlier this year to save the vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, from decades of decline due to entanglement in shrimp fishing gear, according to a statement from the group. The campaign, made up of 45 organizations, aims to convince Mexican officials to permanently ban all gillnet fishing, remove illegal nets from the water, and significantly increase enforcement efforts to save the species.

Trader Joe’s which operates 467 stores, said in a statement sent to SeafoodSource that its Mexican shrimp supplier catches shrimp in a responsible way. It said it checked with the supplier of its one product – Trader Joe’s Uncooked Wild Blue Shrimp – that shares the same Northern Gulf of California habitat as the vaquita, they found that the supplier is “not contributing to the endangerment of the vaquita.”

“We are cognizant of and concerned about threats to the survival of the vaquita,” the company’s statement said. “Our Wild Blue Shrimp vendor has specified that a report is received upon the landing of each vessel and that, through the use of GPS devices that document the areas fished, they can verify the provenance of product and categorically state that all product delivered to Trader Joe's was captured in a responsible manner, not using gillnets, outside the gillnet fishing exclusion zone.”

Trader Joe’s is selling through the remaining Uncooked Wild Blue Shrimp from last year's catch.

 “While we are confident this product has not contributed to the imperilment of the vaquita, we have decided not to purchase more shrimp from Mexico at this time,” the retailer said.

Kate O’Connell, marine animal consultant at the Animal Welfare Institute, praised Trader Joe’s decision.

“We are grateful that Trader Joe’s has listened to the tens of thousands of people who spoke out in support of our campaign’s efforts to save the vaquita,” O’Connell said. “We hope that the Mexican government will take note of this decision, and realize that U.S. consumers want nothing less than a total ban on all vaquita-deadly fishing gear.”

Meanwhile, other retailers such as Amazon need to stop selling shrimp from Mexico, said Tanya Sanerib, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, who said they could be unwittingly contributing to the extinction of the species.

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