Costco Canada has officially released an updated sustainable seafood policy and removed various Redlist species from sale in the U.S. and in Canada. This marks the last of Canada's major supermarket chains to commit to moving away from selling seafood out of stock and instead helping to ensure greener seafood choices for their customers.
On Friday Greenpeace US announced the end of their Oh-No-Costco campaign, a campaign that began on both sides of the border last June. As one of the largest seafood retailers in the U.S., the recent moves by the company will not only mean major changes in Costco stores, but significant changes in the US retail sector with 12 Redlist species no longer making their way through the check-out. Some of the species removed include orange roughy, shark and Atlantic halibut.
In addition to the removal of these species (unless any of them can be certified MSC), Costco is taking the following action to comply with its policy:
-Assumed more of a leadership role within the aquaculture sector by supporting best practices and innovation.
-Partnered with World Wildlife Fund to examine the company’s remaining wild-caught species and determine how to best transition to the most sustainable alternatives; and
-Acknowledged 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)
But what does this mean for Costco Canada members? Well, they will be pleased to know the US policy also applies in Canada and the above commitments will be rolling out on both sides of the border. In Canada, Costco does not sell all of the same species as in the US, but some of the 12 Redlist removed from sale were sold, and thus no longer sold, in Canadian warehouses. Costco Canada members will no longer find Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut and shark, all of which were found by Greenpeace in-store surveys at one point over the last few years. The removal of Atlantic cod is a significant move as they join other Canadian retailers realizing the plight of Canada's cod stocks and the cost to the oceans.
With the removal of these species, Costco Canada continues to sell 5 out of 15 Redlist species, the fewest of the major retailers, One of the remaining Redlist species is yellowfin tuna, a species commonly found in cans lining Costco shelves. In February, Greenpeace released a canned tuna ranking report revealing that much of the tuna found on supermarket shelves comes from unhealthy stocks and destructive fisheries. Costco can take its next great step for the oceans by ridding its shelves of yellowfin and other tuna of concern.
The policy is not currently accessible through the Costco Canada website, so Costco members should encourage the company to make the policy readily available to all those interested in their latest actions. The company should also work to provide more information in stores through better labeling on seafood products and by providing information in the seafood section. There is a ways to go before Costco has entirely greened its seafood supply, but these steps in the right direction deserve a way-to-go Costco!