Greenpeace urges Canadian and global politicians to follow markets lead in protecting our oceans

Feature story - October 28, 2010
Greenpeace has released a new report, titled “Oceans Advocates,” showing how consumer pressure is driving retailers to adopt responsible seafood sourcing practices. In recent years this pressure has brought about encouraging changes in the seafood industry. The report is another call-to-action for politicians, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea, many of whom are gathered at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, to follow the lead of industry and market players who have implemented cutting-edge sustainability initiatives and take action to restore our oceans to health.

Seafood markets driving change towards sustainable oceans management

- Over the last year retailers have started to provide greater detail about their seafood products on packaging, on labels at fish counters or as additional information provided by better-trained fish-counter staff. The overall increase in the transparency of seafood sourcing means customers can now make much more informed choices about the seafood they buy.

- Some of the most common species being removed from the supermarkets shelves globally are orange Roughy, sharks, bluefin tuna, skates and rays.

- Retailers and processors who have developed progressive seafood-sourcing policies work closely with their suppliers to shift their procurement to more sustainable fisheries.

- Some market players have expressed their concerns about the future of our oceans in direct contact with politicians. The increasing demand for sustainable seafood and the increase in press coverage of fishery issues has certainly been felt in the political halls.

Seafood producers, traders and distributors have already started responding to the increased demand for sustainable seafood and started to change. Now, it is time to see politicians follow the lead of market players by supporting strong legislation to secure sustainable and well-managed fisheries worldwide.

What is Canada doing?

Politicians in the EU, New Zealand and elsewhere have already acknowledged the significance of the sustainable seafood movement. Now, it is crucial that political action is taken in Canada to reward those companies that have adopted cutting-edge sustainability initiatives and to establish a level playing field based on best practices for the entire industry, Greenpeace believes that fair competition among retailers, traders and the production sector necessitates standardised requirements for production and marketing processes. It is the role of legislators to design and enforce such common standards and hence ensure fair competition.

“In a surprising reversal, many members of the seafood business community are advancing beyond the business-as-usual attitude of policy-makers when it comes to our oceans,” said Stephanie Goodwin, Greenpeace Canada oceans campaign coordinator. “Although there is still a lot to be done, many retailers across Europe and North America have already changed their seafood procurement practices, increasingly taking sustainability concerns into account. It is unfortunate that policy-makers are lagging behind both consumers and business in taking action to save our oceans, but it is not too late to rescue our oceans for future generations. Action is needed now.”

Currently, less than one per cent of Canada’s oceans are protected in marine reserves. In order to save our oceans globally, Canada must contribute to an immediate goal of protecting 20 per cent of our oceans globally and a long-term goal of protecting 40 per cent of oceans.

Download the report

Read  Taking Stock a Greenpeace Canada report ranking Canada’s major supermarket chains on seafood sustainability