I find Greenpeace annoying at times. The group's canvassers are like sharks I have to avoid as I make my way to and from the office on Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colo. But I have to admit that the activist organization’s tactics got big-box stores like Costco to stop selling many unsustainable seafood species. Can’t knock that.
Now Greenpeace has reeled out its fifth annual retailer seafood sustainability report, and, big surprise to me, Safeway captured the top spot. Why Safeway? One big factor: the retailer’s partnership with FishWise, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting sustainable seafood retailing. This connection has led Safeway to launch several progressive initiatives including a canned tuna policy that, according to Greenpeace, will embrace pole-and-line and FAD-free fish (that’s fish-aggregating devices) and eliminate canned yellowfin.
I thought something was fishy when I read that Whole Foods Market—who I consider a natural leader in sustainable seafood retailing—sunk to fourth place, after Safeway, Target and Wegmans. But Greenpeace points out that Whole Foods has cast too wide of a net in its inventory—in other words, the store sells “red list” seafood species, which are overfished or caught through irresponsible fishing methods. Greenpeace recommends that Whole Foods lose the Atlantic halibut, the skate and the hoki.
Because Greenpeace surveyed only 20 retailers, I can’t say how the group would judge all the smaller natural products stores that sell seafood. But you can try to rate your store by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a sustainable seafood policy?
- Do you support initiatives and participate in partnerships that promote positive change in the oceans?
- Do you have transparent and clear labels and signs, so seafood customers can make educated choices?
- Have you stopped selling “red list” seafood species?
If you answered “no” to any of the above, you’re swimming against the current. Greenpeace notes in its report: “The days of selling fish with no regard for the environment are over.” I agree.
If you answered “yes” to all the above, then, well, you’re quite a catch for conscious customers.