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article imageCostco caves to Greenpeace pressure stops selling red listed fish

By Kim I. Hartman     Feb 27, 2011 in Business
Issaquah - After nearly a year of pressure by Greenpeace supporters Costco announced it has stopped selling a dozen threatened species of red listed fish in a corporate effort to provide customers with a choice of sustainable seafood products only.
Greenpeace began a campaign against the retailer last spring with what they say was one simple request: "Implement a permanent sustainable seafood policy and stop selling 'red list seafood' such as Chilean sea bass or orange roughy."
Greenpeace's Casson Trenor, Oceans Campaigner on the Costco Victory, boasts "they enlisted the online assistance of over 100,000 people who sent messages to Costco’s CEO demanding real progress. A Greenpeace blogpost said. "In just one day, 12,000 people sent emails to the bulk-store giant asking the company to protect the oceans, not their image."
"The Greenpeace airship flew over the Costco Corporate headquarters" based in Issaquah, Washington while volunteer "shoppers handed out informational flyer's in front of stores on busy days," in a nation-wide effort to force Costco to cave to public pressure.
According to the Greenpeace website, Costco has publicly announced that they’re going to:
-- Eliminate 12 red list species, which will not return unless the company can find an Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified option.
The species are: Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, Greenland halibut, Grouper, Monkfish, Orange Roughy, Redfish, Shark, Skates and rays, Swordfish and Bluefin Tuna.
-- Pledge to play more of a leadership role within aquaculture;
-- Partner with World Wildlife Fund to examine their remaining wild-caught species and determine how to best transition to the most sustainable alternative; and
-- Acknowledge the role that the canned tuna industry plays within the global sustainable seafood movement and is in the process of shifting to more sustainable tuna sources in all sectors (fresh, frozen, and canned).
"This is certainly not perfect," said Greenpeace. "We’d like to see these unsustainable options off the shelves until the populations recover, but it’s a major step forward. A stunning win for the oceans."
"Costco senior vice president of seafood Jeff Lyons told Consumer Ally that his company has quietly been working on this effort on its own but only recently made it public in response to Greenpeace's targeted campaign against Costco. "We nine months ago announced seven items we'd delete from the marketplace. About a month ago, we added another five to the list," Lyons said. "The idea is to try to make it a little more public what we're doing."
Lyons agrees with critics that "all of us need to be concerned about sustainability" of fish, according to Wallet Pop.
"Any time a major buyer makes a commitment to more sustainable seafood practices, that is tremendous," Ken Peterson, spokesman for Monterey Bay Aquarium, told Consumer Ally's Mitch Lipka. "That's one of the most important things to happen if we want to have healthy oceans," he notes, "but adds he doesn't yet know enough about the details of Costco's commitment to make a definitive judgment."
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has been "assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties, and even selected sub-populations on a global scale for over 40 years, in order to highlight taxa threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation." The IUCN provides a search-able database of fish on the 'red list' that is publicly available on their website.
With Greenpeace now claiming victory over Costco, Target and Trader Joe's, who implemented a sustainable seafood policy that will be fully effective by the end of 2012, major food retailers await Greenpeace's "Supermarket Scorecard report" which will be made available in April to see where they rank as leading offenders or defenders of the sea.
More about Costco, Greenpeace, red listed, imperiled fish, Trader joes
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