Supermarkets failing our fisheries

Press release - May 8, 2009
Claims today by New Zealand supermarkets that they are doing enough to ensure that the seafood they sell is from sustainably managed fisheries just don’t stack up, says Greenpeace.

While Stocks Last

Yesterday Greenpeace released a new report, While Stocks Last - Supermarkets And The Future Of Seafood, which shows that New Zealand supermarkets are selling species that are in serious trouble, and are being unsustainably fished. (1) The report warns that unless our fisheries a put on a sustainable footing now, we are putting at risk fishing industry jobs, our international reputation and our way of life.

Greenpeace wants New Zealand supermarkets to follow the example of growing numbers of supermarket chains in Europe and the United States, which are implementing sustainable seafood policies in response to customer demand. Some are refusing to stock New Zealand caught species that are not fished sustainably, such as orange roughy. (2)

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas says that New Zealand supermarkets are offering weak excuses for not taking the same action.

"Progressive Enterprises, which owns Foodtown, Woolworths and Countdown, is quoted today as saying that it has 'limited visibility across the supply chain, making it difficult to guarantee that everyone in the supply chain is doing the right thing'," she said. (3)

Greenpeace has presented supermarkets with clear information on the poor situation some New Zealand fisheries are in.

"It's not a matter of lack of visibility- it's a matter of not taking responsibility. Progressive Enterprises has the information, they are just not acting upon it."

Karli Thomas says the claim by Foodstuffs managing director Tony Carter that there is no need for a special policy because all fish caught in New Zealand are sustainably managed under the quota management system is ridiculous. (4)

"There is ample evidence that the quota management system is not protecting New Zealand's fisheries," she said. "Orange roughy, for example, has been in the QMS for 20 years - almost the entire life of the commercial orange roughy fishery - and yet three of the eight stocks have collapsed and in some areas stocks were fished down to as low as three per cent of their original levels."

Thomas says that other statements today by the two supermarket chains suggests that they realise they will have to take the issue more seriously. The Press newspaper today quoted Foodstuffs executive Melissa Hodd as saying the chain is considering the Greenpeace proposal, and Progressive Enterprises communications manager Bill Moore as saying the company is working with Australasian suppliers on the issue. (5)

"Greenpeace has been told by Progressive Enterprises that its seafood sustainability is dealt with by its parent company in Australia, Woolworths Limited. But things are falling through the cracks. In Australia orange roughy has been declared an endangered species, yet it's still being sold in the company's New Zealand stores."

Greenpeace has provided both supermarkets chains with a model sustainable seafood policy that they could put in place. (6)

"What we're looking for now is a sign that they are committed to this. Taking orange roughy off supermarket shelves would be a good start," Thomas said.



(1) The report While Stocks Last - Supermarkets And The Future of Seafood, can be found at:

(2) Supermarkets that are no longer selling orange roughy, or have made a commitment to stop selling it, are Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and Sainsbury's in Britain, and Whole Foods Market, Ahold and The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company in the United States.

(3) See page 5, New Zealand Herald, May 7, 2009.

(4) See page 5, New Zealand Herald, May 7, 2009.

(5) See page 6, The Press, May 7, 2009.

(6) More information on seafood labelling and a model seafood sustainability policy is available online at:

For further information or interviews

Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas 021 905 582

Communications and Media Adelia Hallett on 027 221 7451