Greenpeace report marks decade of retailer progress on sustainable seafood

More action needed from all supermarkets on plastic pollution and human rights abuses

by Perry Wheeler

August 15, 2018

Los Angeles, CA — The 10th edition of Greenpeace’s Carting Away the Oceans report found that grocery retailers across the United States have vastly improved on providing sustainable seafood, while failing to take significant action on the growing problem of single-use plastics. Overall, 90 percent of the retailers profiled received passing scores, ten years after every single retailer failed the first assessment. Whole Foods, Hy-Vee, ALDI, and Target ranked as the top four retailers this year, while Trader Joe’s dropped the furthest, seven spots since Greenpeace’s last report.

“Supermarkets across the country have made significant progress on seafood sustainability in recent years,” said Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky. “It is time for major retailers to put the same energy into tackling the other issues facing our oceans and seafood workers, such as plastic pollution and labor and human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. It’s not truly sustainable seafood if it is produced by forced labor and then wrapped in throwaway plastic packaging.”

Whole Foods remains the top ranked retailer this year, following the implementation of a strong shelf-stable tuna policy and marked sourcing improvements. Hy-Vee placed second, achieving high marks for its advocacy and transparency initiatives. ALDI moved into the top three for the first time ever, buoyed by new policies to address problem practices like transshipment at sea, which is linked to illegal fishing and human rights abuses. Target moved into the top four following improvements in policy and advocacy initiatives, though the company broke a 2010 commitment by re-introducing farmed salmon in its stores.

On the other end of the spectrum, Price Chopper, Save Mart, and Wakefern scored the lowest in this year’s report. Trader Joe’s dropped the furthest for its lack of initiatives or customer engagement on sustainable seafood. More than eight years after Trader Joe’s committed to improve on seafood sustainability, the retailer does not have a robust, public sustainable seafood procurement policy.

None of the retailers profiled have comprehensive policies to reduce and ultimately phase out their reliance on single-use plastics. The equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute, and with plastic production set to double in the next 20 years—largely for packaging—the threats to ocean biodiversity and seafood supply chains are increasing. Greenpeace is urging retailers to take responsibility for their contribution to this pollution crisis, as cities nationwide and large foodservice companies are already making commitments to start phasing out single-use plastics.

Earlier this year, Greenpeace released Misery at Sea, which documented illegal fishing and human rights abuses linked to Taiwanese fleets and large seafood trader Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company (FCF), which supplies many U.S. supermarkets. Greenpeace is urging retailers to demand sustainable, ethical seafood from traders like FCF and Tri Marine (which procure and then supply large amounts of seafood, especially tuna, to the U.S. market), and support the creation of legally binding labor agreements to protect workers’ rights in the larger seafood industry.

Carting Away the Oceans primarily scores retailers on their sustainable seafood efforts, though in this edition has also looked at labor and human rights issues and plastic pollution. While the majority of retailers passed this assessment, many have significant work to do on labor and human rights and the single-use plastic threat to our oceans.

To read the entire report, please click here.

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Contact: Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Senior Communications Specialist, 301-675-8766

Perry Wheeler

By Perry Wheeler

Perry Wheeler is a senior communications specialist at Greenpeace USA.

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