Greenpeace Rates Seafood Sustainability at Supermarkets

Apo Island Marine Reserve

This week Greenpeace released the second edition of a seafood sustainability report rating North American supermarkets. The initial report gave a failing grade to every single market, including the modern green mecca of Whole Foods. At the time of the first report, not one of the markets had policies in place that guaranteed environmentally conscious practices. In this recent report, four markets received passing scores, indicating a minor shift in purchasing.

Whole Foods made it back up the list to the number one spot, with Trader Joe’s coming in almost dead last at number seventeen. Many stores continue to stock “red list” seafood such as Chilean sea bass and swordfish. Some companies have made strides, but not one supermarket cited in the report has made a solid commitment to avoid seafood from fisheries that harm other sea creatures such as dolphins, sea turtles, and seals. All supermarkets rated still sell destructively fished and over-fished species, although some are faster to improve sustainability by refusing to sell certain items, including shark and orange roughy. Seafood sales currently amount to approximately $16 billion annually.

“While many supermarkets seek to green their image, the bottom line is that they are contributing to the crisis facing our oceans,” said Greenpeace’s Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar, a marine biologist. “The initial steps being taken to implement sustainability policies and practices are the right ones but bigger strides are needed to prevent the collapse of our marine ecosystems.”

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 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.

And what can you do? Many feel that eating fish is no longer a viable option since various species are being depleted at such an alarming rate. If you do eat fish, you can print out one of these wallet cards from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and reference it when making seafood and fish choices. Also, shop at a local fishmonger rather than the supermarket, if you can. There you’ll be able to cultivate a relationship with the fish-sellers and you can work with them to make sure you’re getting locally-caught, sustainable seafood and fish. Ask questions.

About Kimberly Jordan Allen


  1. Thanks for posting this! I’ve always wondered what is safe and what isnt and this guide is very handy.

  2. I think we are going to see a lot of businesses touting that they are “green” when indeed they are not. It’s going to take a lot of education before some people understand what makes a product “green”. People who are not seriously committed to the environment or just don’t have the resources to understand what makes a product “green”, will be making choices that they think are good, when in fact they are not. This will not help the situation.

  3. Although Whole Foods was on the top of the list. The rating was out of 100 and Whole Foods only got a 50.

  4. Indeed. Veganism is looking better and better….

  5. Why dont people just stop eating fish altogether, then we dont have to carry around what we can and can’t eat in our wallets. I agree that being Vegan Kim, is looking a much better option. My friend just recently stopped eating Tuna after discovering how depleated fish stocks are, people just dont consider fish at all, they are a lifeless commodity like meat… makes me mad and then i get grumpy, thus the rant. thanks for letting me vent 🙂

  6. I’m been veggie for a very long time (16 years in a couple weeks!) and that includes fish, though I’ve had a bit of seafood here and there, I must admit. But I can’t really indulge in good conscience when the seas are dying. I think fish should be off the menu for a few years- would that really be such a bad thing?

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