Costco adopts sustainable seafood policy after Greenpeace campaign
March 1, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Costco agreed to pull 12 fish species from display cases after Greenpeace targeted the company for seafood policies and sent a blimp to Issaquah to attract attention to the issue.
Greenpeace called on Issaquah-based Costco to discontinue selling the fish — including Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, orange roughy and shark — threatened by overfishing.
Costco — the largest wholesale club in the United States and the largest employer in Issaquah — also pledged to pursue sound practices for farmed salmon and shrimp. The chain also has plans to focus on the environmental impact related to canned tuna.
“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,” Jeff Lyons, Costco senior vice president for fresh foods, said in a statement. “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.”
The decision concludes a campaign launched last spring by Greenpeace to prod Costco to adopt a sustainable seafood policy.
Greenpeace sent a rainbow-patterned blimp to hover above Costco corporate headquarters and the flagship warehouse last June.
The environmental group launched the campaign against Costco last year after the company received a poor score in a Greenpeace sustainable seafood report, called Carting Away the Oceans.
Executives said the chain did not sell many of the species on the Greenpeace watch list and instead sold many farmed seafood offerings.
The next edition of the Carting Away the Oceans report is due to be released in April.
Costco may continue to sell the discontinued species if the fish receive certification from the Marine Stewardship Council — the most-recognized independent certifier of sustainable fisheries.
“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,” Casson Trenor, Greenpeace senior markets campaigner, said in a statement. “While there is still a long way to go, we are very pleased with the steps that Costco has taken and their ongoing commitments.”
The campaign marks the latest success in a bare-knuckles campaign to nudge a major retailer to adopt sustainable seafood policies. Greenpeace also pressured Trader Joe’s to change how the grocery chain sells seafood by 2012.
“Costco’s progress is further proof that sustainable business practices and the seafood industry not only can come together, but in fact must do so,” Greenpeace USA Executive Director Phil Radford said in a statement. “Unless we stop pretending that we can catch, farm and sell as much fish as we like, we will find ourselves with empty nets and empty oceans.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.