Greenpeace hangs longline from Costco roof to highlight need for ocean protection

Feature story - June 29, 2010
(Vancouver)- Greenpeace hung a giant longline laden with replicas of at-risk marine species from the roof of Costco in downtown Vancouver today to send a message to the company to stop selling seafood that is destructively fished or farmed. A banner attached to longline hooks transformed the Costco sign to read “Costco Wholesale Ocean Destruction.”

© Greenpeace / Ben Russell

Costco placed last in Greenpeace’s second annual supermarket ranking report, Taking Stock: Ranking supermarkets on seafood sustainability, released at the beginning of June. The company is the only major food retail chain in Canada that has not committed to developing a seafood policy. Costco has also failed to remove species from sale that are on Greenpeace's Redlist of destructively fished or farmed seafood.

“Costco is selling out the oceans and its members by refusing to ensure the seafood it sells is sustainable,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace oceans campaigner. “While all other major supermarkets in Canada are working towards sustainable seafood policies, Costco continues to skirt the issue. Costco is being swept away by the growing tide of more progressive companies and must begin to green its seafood counters now.”

According to Greenpeace’s in-store surveys, the company sells eight of 15 species on Greenpeace' Redlist, the same number sold in 2007 when surveys began. These eight species are popular with consumers, but are having severe impacts on our ocean ecosystems.

Dredged Atlantic sea scallops line the shelves of Costco freezers, along with tropical shrimp that are either bottom trawled or come from farms that pollute drinking water and destroy sensitive coastal habitats. Costco also sells bottom trawled haddock and depleted Atlantic halibut. Atlantic cod sold may come from endangered Canadian stocks, but poor labelling doesn’t allow customers to know. One of the bigger sellers at Costco is farmed Atlantic salmon that threaten wild stocks and contaminate the marine environment.

Yellowfin tuna are caught on longlines like the one hung by Greenpeace, which contribute to the overfishing of this species and threaten endangered sea turtles, sharks and sea birds, as they are often caught and killed.

“Costco cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the crisis facing our oceans,” said King. “Greenpeace will maintain its campaign against Costco until it agrees to take responsibility for the seafood it sells.”

You can take part in sending Costco a message that ocean destruction is bad for business by clicking here. Visit Greenpeace’s new site,, for more information on what you can do to protect the oceans and ensure fish for the future.