Costco Strengthens Seafood Policy Following Wave of Criticism

Costco has become the latest retailer to beef up its seafood sourcing policy following a wave of public pressure.

The company revealed it would stop selling a dozen at-risk species in its wholesale club stores, while also committing to buying canned tuna and farmed species that meet emerging sustainability standards.

Following the company's poor performance in Greenpeace's Supermarket Scorecard, Costco had been the center of a campaign led by the nonprofit, including more than 100,000 messages sent to the company's CEO and a blimp flown over its headquarters. The publicity generated by the rankings has also nudged other major retailers to rethink their seafood sourcing policies, including Trader Joe’s and Target.

"This victory proves that by working together, we can make a difference to defend our oceans," Greenpeace's Casson Trenor said in a video statement. "I’ve been working very closely with Costco on the specifics of their new seafood policy and am very pleased with the direction that they’re taking."

Costco will stop selling Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, Greenland halibut, grouper, monkfish, orange roughy, redfish, shark, skates and rays, swordfish, and bluefin tuna. It won't bring any of these species back until it can find a source certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Costco is also working with World Wildlife Fund to improve the aquaculture conditions of its farmed shrimp from Thailand by helping its suppliers comply with a new draft standard and evaluate other certifications. The company is also working with its farmed salmon and tilapia suppliers to ensure appropriate standards are met.

Costco will modify its purchase procedures of frozen and fresh tuna to comply with guidelines from the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.

Although Greenpeace's fifth Supermarket Scorecard won't be released until April, two other retailers have now landed on its radar.

"These are major companies like Wal-Mart and SUPERVALU and they need a little encouragement," the nonprofit said on its website. "Help keep the momentum going by telling them to get their act together and save the oceans."

Image licensed by stock.xchng user Benjipie.