Canadian Supermarkets Get Mediocre Rating on Sustainable Fish

super rank photo

Photo: greenpeace

Canada's supermarkets didn't get great marks on their sustainable seafood practices. Greenpeace has rated the 8 biggest supermarkets and 5 of them had better go back to school. Only Loblaw, Overwaitea and Safeway passed the sustainability test.

It's not great, but three years ago, when ratings first started, all eight failed the test. Now Loblaw (yes that is a name) has come first with 62%; that means they have implemented policies to switch their seafood to sustainable and certified, as well as dramatically improving their procurement and species selection.

emerging deep photo

Photo: greenpeace

Loblaw received a 62 per cent score on the Greenpeace Canada ranking, followed by Overwaitea (that's a name too, for a British Columbian chain) at 59 per cent, Safeway at 51 per cent, Sobeys at 45 per cent, Walmart and Metro at 43 per cent, Federated Co-operatives at 38 per cent and Costco at 37 per cent.

The report, Emerging from the Deep, Ranking Supermarkets on Seafood Sustainability, is the third one issued. Every supermarket failed in the first one. Loblaws was second in rank on the second one and now it has clawed its way to the top (from 43% to 62%).

According to Greenpeace, Loblaw has an ambitious programme to get rid of unsustainable products. It is working towards achieving a goal of only sourcing wild-caught and farmed sustainable products by 2013. It gets high marks for raising awareness (92%) but "there remains a disconnect between the corporate vision and what's seen in many Loblaw stores."

Overwaitea dropped to second place, but it was the first retailer to source a more sustainable alternative to net-pen farmed salmon last year and the first to stop sourcing Redlisted canned yellowfin tuna this year.

Safeway stayed in third place and Sobeys moved up to fourth. Metro tied Walmart for fifth place this year. Metro removed a number of Red List species from its shelves, including Northwest Atlantic cod. Walmart has comparatively few Redlist species and continues to seek more certified products in order to meet its 2013 goal of sourcing only certified seafood.

Federated Cooperatives Ltd. (FCL) and Costco stayed in the same place. Greenpeace said that Costco's "policy does not go as far as it needs to."

Greenpeace said that "All chains have made great gains, particularly around sustainable seafood policy implementation, labelling on seafood products, tracing fish from ocean to shelf and avoiding the sale of fish that are illegally caught. However, much work needs to be done before the bottom two companies are out of the red zone and the top companies are safely in the green."

red list photo

Photo: greenpeace

The Red List is a group of species that Greenpeace thinks may come from unsustainable fisheries. Due to the high demand for fish,it has become harder for supermarkets to trace the supply chains for the fish. It is difficult to detect illegally caught fish and trace them to their source. The Redlist fish are the ones that Greenpeace want supermarkets to stop selling.

Right now Loblaw sells 8 Redlist species, Overwaitea sells 5 and Safeway sells six.

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