Whole Foods Tops Greenpeace Sustainable Seafood Report

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©. Greenpeace USA

From releasing its first ever Canned Tuna Shopping Guide earlier this year to publicizing a list of the world's most over-fished species, Greenpeace has long been tracking both retailers and the fishing industry to determine progress toward sustainable seafood.

Today, the non-profit is releasing its 9th "Carting Away the Oceans" report on US grocery chains' seafood policies. The report ranks retailers on four key criteria: policy (the system the company has in place to govern purchasing decisions), initiatives (participation in coalitions and partnerships that promote seafood sustainability), labeling and transparency (how well a company communicates about sustainable seafood with stakeholders) and red list inventory (the amount of clearly unsustainable seafood species that a company sells).

Among the key takeaways from this years' report:

Whole Foods ranked first place for the third year in a row, achieving its highest ever score. Besides its commitment to selling sustainable seafood across all departments, the company also scored highly for its advocacy efforts—calling on the US government to enforce laws against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as urging protection of the Bering Sea Canyons. But nobody is perfect— Greenpeace is still concerned about Whole Foods' sales of Chilean Sea Bass, which Greenpeace includes on its list of threatened species.

Wegmans continued rising up the rankings, closing in on Whole Foods—although it is the only top five retailer that does not yet have sustainable private level canned tuna.

Trader Joe's' score dropped significantly, becoming the first ever retailer to drop out of the Good category. Their ranking dropped from 4th to 7th place, in part because of a failure to deliver on promises it made regarding public communication on sustainable seafood, as well as a lack of transparency about its sustainable seafood policies. The company still leads the sector, however, in terms of selling the fewest species from Greenpeace's Red List.

80% of retailers received a passing score, with only five companies—Southeastern Grocers, Roundy's, Publix, A&P; and Save Mart—receiving a "failing" grade from Greenpeace.

Of course, as the one-time kerfuffle between Greenpeace and Apple over clean energy (now more than resolved!) showed, rankings and ranking criteria on any environmental issue from campaign groups like Greenpeace can be contentious.

Still, it's good to see more retailers engaging deeply on the issue of what sustainable seafood might look like, and how to achieve it. And it's also good to see Greenpeace focusing heavily on human rights abuses and slavery within the fishing industry.

Learn more via Greenpace's Carting Away the Oceans report, including what each of us can do as consumers to help move sustainable seafood forward. Yes, one action is to eat less fish!