While Stocks Last - New Zealand Supermarkets And The Future Of Seafood

Press release - May 6, 2009
Supermarkets risk a backlash from concerned customers if they don't stop selling unsustainably-caught fish, Greenpeace is warning. New Zealand-caught species such as orange roughy have already been taken off the shelves of supermarkets in Europe and the United States in response to sustainability concerns and customer pressure (1).

While Stocks Last

Today Greenpeace invited the heads of New Zealand's two major supermarket chains, Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs (2) to a special lunch in Auckland's QEII Square to launch the report While Stocks Last - Supermarkets and the Future of Seafood (3).

The environmental organisation has identified those species that are in danger and should not be sold unless supermarket managers can assure customers that they come from sustainable sources and were caught using non-destructive methods. The species on the Greenpeace Redlist include snapper, hoki and orange roughy (4).

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner Karli Thomas says that, despite New Zealand's quota management system (QMS), many of the country's fisheries are in trouble.

"Three of our eight orange roughy stocks have been fished to the point of collapse and have had to be closed. This species has been managed under the quota management system since it was established more than 20 years ago - so that's hardly a record to be proud of," she said. "We don't want to get to that point with any more fisheries, but there's a real risk of that happening if we continue the way we're going."

Greenpeace says that supermarkets have a key role to play in the protection of New Zealand's fisheries.

"Research indicates that many New Zealanders want to buy seafood from fish stocks that are truly sustainable, but that's not easy when you're in the supermarket and the most basic information is not available: what species it is, where it is from and how it was caught," she said. "Some of the seafood on sale only lists that it is 'fish' - which is like saying a steak is 'mammal'. People need more information than that."

Greenpeace is calling on New Zealand supermarket managers to assure their customers that any fish they buy in their stores is truly sustainable.

"That means putting in place a sustainability policy, and removing from sale those species that don't make the grade. Customers should not have to figure out whether the seafood they are buying comes from an endangered stock, or was caught with destructive methods."

Thomas says that the menu for today's lunch highlights what will happen to New Zealand's fisheries if we don't stop fishing unsustainably.

"It's pretty much all jellyfish on the menu, because in a worst case scenario, that's all that will be left," she said.

Greenpeace is asking New Zealand shoppers to reinforce this message by asking questions in supermarkets about the sustainability of the fish on sale, and to avoid buying the species on the Redlist.

Download full report


Other contacts: Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas 021 905 582 Communications and Media Adelia Hallett on 027 221 7451

Notes: (1) 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. (2) Progressive Enterprises includes Foodtown, Woolworths and Countdown stores. Foodstuffs stores include New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square. (3) The report 'While stocks last - Supermarkets and the future of seafood' is also available online at: http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/press/reports/while-stocks-last (4) The Greenpeace New Zealand Redlist was launched in August 2008, listing the following species: Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish, arrow squid, flatfish, hake, hoki, orange roughy, oreos (deep sea dory), sharks, shrimps and prawns, snapper, swordfish and tuna. The list is available online at: http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/sos/red-list