Monday, January 11, 2010

Greenpeace calls on Trader Joe's to stop selling 'red-list' fish

By Colin Bennett

Greenpeace, a sometimes controversial and often successful environmental organization, is calling upon the nation-wide food retailer Trader Joe's to stop selling fish species it claims are being harvested or farmed unsustainably.

The organization maintains a list of fish it says to avoid due to unsustainable harvesting or farming practices. Its list, dubbed the 'red-list' consists of 22 entries including Atlantic cod, halibut, and salmon, yellowfin tuna, pollack, red snapper, and all species of sharks. (The full list can be found here).

According to Casson Trenor, Greenpeace's Sustainable Seafood Markets Expert, Trader Joe's is the "worst performing national seafood retailer". The assertion is based on rating system containing four categories: Sustainable Seafood Policy (Trader Joe's doesn't have one); Seafood Sustainability Initiatives (Trader Joe's doesn't have any); Labeling & Transparency (Trader Joe's doesn't label its seafood); Red List Seafood Sales (Trader Joe's sells 15 of the 22 of the co-called red-list seafoods). The full scorecard, published in a report called "Carting Away the Oceans" contains ratings of the nation's 20 largest seafood retailers. Of all the retailers evaluated, Wegman's was rated the highest with a score of 5.9 out of 10.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "Despite its social and economic importance, attempts to manage fisheries sustainably have been unsuccessful in many parts of the world due to several factors...the underlying crisis is real and an urgent response is required at global level." A study published in the journal Science claims that the world will run out of seafood by the middle of the century if fishing practices aren't changed drastically. "We really see the end of the line now," said the study's lead author Boris Worm, a marine biologist at Canada's Dalhousie University, in an interview with the Washington Post. "It's within our lifetime. Our children will see a world without seafood if we don't change things." Specifically, the study states that "business as usual would foreshadow serious threats to global food security, coastal water quality, and ecosystem stability, affecting current and future generations."

If you choose to eat fish or other seafood, there are several organizations that have guides to help you make informed decisions, including NOAA, the Marine Stewardship Council, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you choose to give up seafood completely, there are dozens of resources that will help you select healthy alternatives to animal protein. Vegan Outreach has a great guide, as does the USDA, and the Mayo Clinic.

If you are interested in contacting Trader Joe's to tell them how you feel about their lack of a sustainable seafood policy you can use Greenpeace's online contact form here. It allows you to write your own comment or submit a suggested comment.

Enjoy this short clip from the mock-website for Traitor Joe's:

Download the flash player

See these other articles related to seafood:

World's Fish Supply Running Out, Researchers Warn- Washington Post

Shrimp On Your Plate? Think Twice (Your Liver, Endangered Mangroves, And Poorly Paid Workers Will Thank You)- Planet Green

Last Act for the Bluefin- New York Times

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