Greenpeace Targets Costco on Seafood

August 3, 2010

Greenpeace launched the next phase of its sustainable seafood campaign today targeting Costco.

Citing the company's lack of a transparent and meaningful sustainable seafood policy, Greenpeace launched the next phase of its sustainable seafood campaign today targeting Costco. Although Costco tells its shareholders and customers that it supports sustainable seafood, it sells 15 of the 22 "red-listed" seafoods including two of the world's most critically imperiled species: orange roughy and Chilean sea bass.

"As the third largest retailer in the United States and one of the largest seafood retailers, the scope of Costco’s impact on ocean ecosystems is tremendous,“ said Greenpeace markets campaigner Casson Trenor. “Unfortunately, it clearly puts short-term profits before sustainability and its lack of transparency in labeling leaves its customers without any guidance. It’s time for Costco to take responsibility for the impact it is having on our oceans."

Costco is one of 20 seafood retailers profiled in Greenpeace's sustainable seafood guide, Carting Away the Oceans, which is published each year based on an analysis of sustainable seafood policies and practices among major retailers. Since CATO’s inception in 2008, the Costco Corporation has continually proven to be one of the poorest performing big box stores in the United States in terms of seafood sustainability. Of the 20 largest supermarket chains in the United States, Costco has made no visible effort to increase the sustainability of their seafood operations and continues to ignore scientific warnings about the crisis facing global fisheries and the marine environment.

According to leading scientists, unless current fishing practices change, global fish stocks will collapse by the middle of the century. However, while Costco mentions sustainable seafood in its "Corporate Sustainability Report," the company offers no tangible information or solutions and ultimately dodges the issues in substance.

"We don’t expect Costco to fully agree with us," said Trenor. "But as a major seafood purveyor, Costco must treat our oceans responsibly. It's time they admitted they have a problem and changed their behavior."

Watch video: Ocean Destroyer's Anonymous: Six Steps to Recovery

Greenpeace urges Costco to implement a sustainable seafood policy, offer transparency in its seafood labeling, and stop selling red list seafood — starting immediately with orange roughy and Chilean sea bass.

To help ensure the long-term sustainability of fisheries and marine ecosystems, Greenpeace advocates the creation of a worldwide network of marine reserves and fisheries management that is based on a precautionary, ecosystem-based approach. Today, supermarkets can help the oceans and meet consumer demand for sustainable products by refusing to sell seafood from fisheries that:

  • exploit endangered, vulnerable and/or protected species, or species with poor stock status;
  • cause habitat destruction and/or lead to ecosystem alterations;
  • cause negative impacts on other, non-target species;
  • are unregulated, unreported, illegal or managed poorly, and
  • cause negative impacts on local, fishing dependent communities.


Photos: available on Flickr


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