The ocean may look calm and serene, but beneath the surface is a different story. Around the world, our oceans are in crisis. Decades of industrial fishing have taken a massive toll on marine ecosystems, yet our appetite for seafood has never been so great. Even the deep and remote areas that once served as refuges from fishing are no longer safe havens; today the fish have no place to hide.

Marine reserves now © Greenpeace / Christian Aslund

 

We have a responsibility to protect our oceans for future generations. To help supermarkets and consumers make better seafood purchasing choices, Greenpeace has created a Redlist of the 21 of the most destructively fished or farmed species, including Atlantic cod, tropical shrimp and some tuna. (Click here for the complete Redlist.) Greenpeace wants supermarkets to stop stocking Redlisted species and develop sustainable seafood policies.

The fish on the Redlist are there because fishery and/or production methods have negative impacts on the target species and/or other marine species, lead to ecosystem alterations, have social implications or are poorly managed or corrupt. Each Redlist fish went through the Greenpeace red-grade criteria — one for wild species and one for farmed. During the ongoing assessment process, Greenpeace reviews the most recent scientific research relating to each stock or aquaculture system, scrutinizes government sources and consults grading schemes used by other organizations.

Greenpeace also produces an annual supermarket ranking to evaluate Canada’s eight major grocery chains on their progress in providing sustainable seafood. From selling fish to death to a step in the right direction, the most recent ranking placed the retailers as follows: Metro, Safeway, Costco, Co-op, Overwaitea, Walmart, Sobeys and Loblaws. Greenpeace works with retailers to help them create more sustainable seafood procurement policies and takes direct action at grocery stores that are not doing enough to stop the sale of Redlist fish.

Greenpeace believes the only way to allow our oceans to recover and ensure there are fish for the future is to stop overfishing and destructive practices such as bottom trawling and dredging, while protecting our polar oceans and setting aside no-take areas in marine reserves to safeguard against growing threats from climate change and ocean acidification. In Canada and around the world, progress in marine protection has been slow. Greenpeace is working to step up the pace by lobbying governments and industry.

From coast to coast, Canadians are witnessing ocean mismanagement firsthand. Cod have all but vanished on the East Coast, and on the West Coast, millions of Sockeye salmon have disappeared from the Fraser River. On a global scale, this mismanagement is magnified, with less than one per cent of the world’s oceans protected, and species such as bluefin tuna and sharks nearing the point of complete collapse. More than 90 per cent of large predatory species such as tuna, cod and swordfish have vanished from our oceans. On harmful longlines set out for swordfish, sea turtles are being slaughtered by the thousands — innocent victims of irresponsible ocean management and a lack of proper regulation.

Our oceans are in trouble. But if we act now, they can recover. For in-depth information, visit Resources.

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