Fact sheet: Greenpeace Seafood Report: Out of Stock

Publication - March 31, 2009
Greenpeace is calling on supermarkets to stop selling Redlist species, adopt a sustainable seafood procurement policy, use their influence to inform the industry on sustainability requirements, and ensure proper labeling of seafood products sold. Here are some important facts of the Out of Stock report that justify these demands to our supermarkets.

Of the world’s major commercial fisheries, those targeting large predatory species — which include some of our favourite seafood, such as cod, tuna, halibut and swordfish — have declined by 90 per cent of their numbers in the ’50s.

Destructive fishing practices including bottom trawling and dredging lead to the capture of about 27 million tonnes of marine life “accidentally” each year, most of which is thrown back into the ocean dead or dying

Global fishing capacity is 2.5-times greater than what it would take to sustainably harvest fish stocks


Currently, 76% of commercially valuable fish stocks are either fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted.

Seafood consumption in Canada is between nine and 10 kilograms, about 6 kg per person of which are purchased from the retail sector. Sixty-three per cent of seafood available for consumption in Canada is sold in supermarkets. Supermarkets are a key link in the supply chain between the producer and the consumer.

Contrary to industry reports, aquaculture, as it is currently practiced, is not the solution. As the aquaculture industry intensifies, so does nutrient pollution, ecosystem impact and the transfer of disease and parasites to wild stocks in Canadian and international waters.

Currently very few species sold in Canada are certified by the most well-known certification, Marine Stewardship Council, and Greenpeace does not at this time consider any existing certification to be adequate.

An investigation into the top eight supermarket chains in Canada revealed that none have a purchasing policy in place relating to seafood and few are moving forward at all in addressing the global decline of fish stocks.

All of the supermarkets included in the investigation are selling many of the species in need of immediate attention.

Certain supermarkets, including Wal-Mart, Overwaitea and the Thrifty division of Sobey’s, have taken first steps towards more sustainable seafood procurement practices.

Of the major supermarkets selling Redlist fish, both Loblaws (which holds 32 per cent of the market share) and Sobey’s (holding 15 per cent) sell all of the Redlist species.

Redlist species sold in Canadian supermarkets the most at risk of commercial extinction include:
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
stocks declined by 90 per cent since the ’70s and the North Atlantic stock is almost commercially extinct.
Atlantic Halibut
significant declines and a species of special concern in the U.S.
Atlantic Cod
commercial extinction, endangered and other listing of some stocks.
overall decline to 10 per cent of previous levels and many species listed as endangered or threatened.
some species extirpated while others on endangered, threatened or special concern species lists.
Orange Roughy
vulnerable species, stock declines.
New Zealand Hoki
stock declines.

The most consumed and imported Redlist species is tropical shrimp, whose farming and catch methods are wreaking havoc on mangrove forests, marine ecosystems, fresh water supply, and the health of many coastal communities.

Redlist species were chosen based on criteria relating to the stock status, species vulnerability and environmental impact.