Costco improves seafood policies in a stunning win for the oceans

by Casson Trenor

February 24, 2011

Costco Victory

I’m elated to share with you a major win for the oceans!

After eight months of pressuring Costco to improve their seafood policies—I’m overjoyed to tell you that the wholesale giant announced a new policy aimed at helping to save the oceans, rather than plunder them.

Thanks to all of YOU who helped make this major win possible. Throughout the campaign, I was continually inspired by how many people cared about protecting the oceans.

Over 100,000 people took action online—sending messages to Costco’s CEO demanding real progress. Thousands of concerned citizens downloaded our activist toolkit and participated in surveying Costco stores across the country. And, that’s not all—hundreds of phone calls were placed to stores, the Greenpeace airship flew over their headquarters and shoppers handed out informational flyers in front of stores on busy days.

This victory proves that by working together, we can make a difference to protect the environment.

I’ve been working very closely with Costco on the specifics of their new seafood policy and am very pleased with the direction that they’re taking.

Costco has agreed to remove over a dozen red list items, pursue better practices in aquaculture and assume more of a leadership role in the ongoing global effort to develop a more sustainable tuna industry.

If you want to know all the specifics (I know I like hearing about all the details), Costco has publicly announced that they’re going to:

— Eliminate 12 red list species, which will not return unless the company can find an MSC-certified option. This is certainly not perfect—we’d like to see these unsustainable options off the shelves until the populations recover—but it’s a major step forward. The species are:

     – Atlantic cod
     – Atlantic halibut
     – Chilean sea bass
     – Greenland halibut
     – Grouper
     – Monkfish
     – Orange roughy
     – Redfish
     – Shark
     – Skates and rays
     – Swordfish
     – Bluefin tuna

— Pledge to play more of a leadership role within aquaculture;

— Partner with World Wildlife Fund to examine their remaining wild-caught species and determine how to best transition to the most sustainable alternative; and

— Acknowledge the role that the canned tuna industry plays within the global sustainable seafood movement and is in the process of shifting to more sustainable tuna sources in all sectors (fresh, frozen, and canned).

It’s fantastic that Costco’s leadership has taken some incredibly important steps forward. Still, this is just the beginning—the company has a long way to go, and just as we monitored the continued progress with the victory around Trader Joe’s, we’ll also be keeping an eye on Costco to make sure that they follow through on these policies and continue improving their stewardship towards the oceans.

While Costco proves they want to be a leader in ocean conservation, many other supermarkets continue to put the oceans in harms way due to their seafood policies. This April, Greenpeace will be releasing our fifth Supermarket Scorecard report. It’ll be eye opening to see how the competition stacks up.

Take action! Stand up for the oceans and ocean wildlife.

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