Greenpeace released its fourth seafood “sustainability scorecard” today, which showed that the supermarket chain Target has moved up from fourth place to receive the number one ranking.
Wegmans, last year’s winner for best seafood sustainability practices, inched down to second place. Whole Foods Markets remained at third place.
Safeway and Ahold USA (Stop and Shop and Giant stores) and Harris Teeter rounded out the top six stores in the rankings, which rate the retailers based on how well they are monitoring the seafood they sell to keep threatened and over-fished species off the market.
The top six supermarket chains of 20 reviewed all received strong marks for having a sustainability plan and acting on it. The next four stores were given credit for having a plan, and for taking some actions to preserve ocean ecosystems. The bottom ten stores were given failing grades.
The rankings are part of a report called Carting Away the Oceans. In the report, Greenpeace notes that three companies that had previously received a failing grade, achieved passing marks this year. Those are: A&P; Delhaize and Trader Joe’s, which Greenpeace had singled out last year for its failure to stop buying imperiled fish and its lack of a seafood policy to guide buying. The chain announced in March that it was developing a sustainable seafood plan.
This year’s losers in the Greenpeace rankings — those stores that continue to sell seafood that conservationists have identified as in jeopardy and have no “visible” plan to address seafood sustainability — include: H.E.B. (H.E.B. and Central Market), Meijer, Costco, SUPERVALU, Publix and Winn Dixie.
“A significant divide is developing among the major retailers,” said Greenpeace’s Senior Markets Campaigner, Casson Trenor. “It’s now clear that Wegmans, Target and Whole Foods are making substantive progress reflecting their commitment while others such as H.E.B. and Costco remain committed to selling endangered species and destroying marine ecosystems.”
Greenpeace believes all seafood sellers should adopt sustainable practices to help ensure the survival of fisheries and marine ecosystems worldwide. The environmental advocacy group advocates the creation of a global network of marine preserves that operate to help save ocean eco-systems and maintain long-term viability of fish populations. To help with this, food sellers should refuse to sell from fisheries that exploit marine populations, alter the eco-system (such as when large trawlers destroy coral), use practices that harm non-targeted fish (like dolphin) or illegal and unlicensed means of obtaining fish.
The list of chains that Greenpeace investigated, ranked from best to worst:
3. Whole Foods
4. Safeway (Dominicks, Genuardi’s, Pavilions, Randall’s, Von’s)
5. Ahold USA (Stop & Shop, Giant)
6. Harris Teeter
7. A&P (Food Emporium, Pathmark, Super Fresh, Waldbaum’s)
8. Delhaize (Bloom, Food Lion, Hannaford Bros., Sweetbay)
10. Trader Joe’s
11. Price Chopper
13. Kroger (Baker’s, City Market, Dillon’s, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, Ralph’s, Smith’s, Quality Food Center – QFC)
15. Supervalu (Acme, Albertson’s, Bristol Farms, Jewel-Osco, Save-A-Lot, Shaw’s)
16. Giant Eagle
18. Winn Dixie
20. H.E.B. (H.E.B., Central Market)
Greenpeace isn’t alone in trying to bring attention to fisheries depletion. The Environmental Defense Fund has issued a list of eco-best to worst seafood to help consumers choose sustainable varieties.
Ditto the NRDC, which has put out a Seafood Guide.