Greenpeace today released its fifth edition of “Carting Away the Oceans,” a report and scorecard that ranks top retailers in the U.S. on their sustainable seafood. Among those receiving failing grades are Florida-based grocery chains Winn-Dixie and Publix.
According to the report, Winn-Dixie has continually ignored all inquiries from Greenpeace on its seafood policies and practices, which has resulted in a consistently low ranking. And, though it announced the creation of a “seafood ranking system” last year, Publix has yet to implement a sustainable seafood policy.
Greenpeace says that Publix “fails to offer any information on seafood sustainability to its customers which would allow them to avoid purchasing destructively fished species.” Further, seemingly no information on the results of the store’s seafood-ranking system is available.
Both retailers are among the few to continue selling orange roughy, a fish that can reach nearly 100 years of age and bears few young, making its population particularly sensitive to over-fishing. In the past several years, dozens of big-name retailers (including Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Wegman’s and Costco) have discontinued sales of orange roughy, which is a critically endangered, “red listed” fish (a Greenpeace list of the most over-fished species). Of the 22 “red listed” fish, Publix sells 15, Winn-Dixie 13.
Nearly every other major grocery store on the list has made changes to its seafood counter in recent years, specifically when it comes to selling some of the most critically endangered species of fish, but the Greenpeace report concludes that much more should be done in order to attain a truly sustainable seafood retail industry:
We need a real paradigm shift in how we think about seafood. Most seafood merchants continue to focus on large, predatory fish such as cod, sharks, and tuna, while globally, populations of these ecologically vital animals have dropped by as much as 90 percent.
The surprising chain to take the top spot on Greenpeace’s list? Conventional grocer Safeway, which leapt up three places from last year, surpassing specialty grocers like Whole Foods and Wegmans and taking the top position from last year’s top-rated big-box retailer, Target.