Loblaws targeted by Greenpeace

Activists hang giant net from grocery store to denounce destructive fishing

Feature story - November 5, 2008
Greenpeace activists helped launch a national campaign targeting Canada's largest grocer by hanging a giant fishing net from a Loblaws store in Toronto this morning. Activists also postered store windows with the message "Caught red-handed with Redlist fish" and put up crime scene tape at a dozen other Loblaw locations in the Toronto area where the company is based.

Caught red-handed selling Redlist fish.

Greenpeace is urging Loblaw to shoulder its share of the responsibility for the decline of fish stocks by ceasing to sell the most threatened species. Loblaw accounts for nearly a third of the grocery market share in Canada and operates under banners including Atlantic Superstore, Maxi, Provigo and Zehrs.

Loblaw presents itself as a 'green' grocer, but Greenpeace surveys indicate that the company is selling 14 of the 15 Redlist species that are most destructively fished or farmed. In its Out of Stockreport released last June, Greenpeace identified a "Redlist" of seafood which should be taken off the shelves until stocks recover or fishing and fish farming practices improve.

Redlist species at risk of commercial extinction include Atlantic bluefin tuna, Atlantic cod, sharks, skates and orange roughy. Tropical shrimp is the most consumed species on the list, but harvesting and farming the species is wreaking havoc on ecosystems and threatening coastal communities. Bottom trawling and other destructive fishing methods are raking the ocean floor and fishing at an entirely unsustainable rate.

Our oceans are in peril: global fishing operations take 2.5 times more fish and seafood than is sustainable. Currently, three-quarters of the world's fisheries are fully exploited or overexploited, and 90 per cent of large, predatory fish such as tuna and cod are gone. Greenpeace is advocating for a global network of marine reserves covering 40 per cent of the oceans.

As the link between the consumer and the producer, supermarkets have a unique role to play in ensuring fish for the future. Greenpeace is asking Loblaw and other retailers to take the pressure off threatened fisheries now by purchasing their seafood only from sustainably managed fisheries. If they don't, there soon won't be any fish left to sell.