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Mar 1, 2011 09:22 AM

Costco to stop selling unsustainable seafood

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  1. I hope that my smoked white fish salad isn't effected.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JAB

      Assuming it is Great Lakes whitefish then you'll be fine. Those fisheries are well managed.

    2. I often get the bluefin tuna at Costco but I guess no more...

      Tulips to Costco for adopting these new policies, turds to the Greenpeace rep who used the moment and occasion to give a "look at us" quote and pat himself on the back.

      " "It was a long and arduous process," said Casson Trenor, Greenpeace's seafood campaigner. "I'm really happy with where we've gotten to, and I think it says a lot about our methods and how effective we can be." "

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bunson

        Casson is one of the leading figures in the sustainable movement. He leads by example in his own restaurants (Tataki and Tataki South in San Francisco) and his work with Greenpeace deserves a big pat on the back. I'm sure changing Costco's seafood policy wasn't an easy process...

        1. re: KelsEats

          Completely agree with kels. This IS a huge victory for those of us in the organization, and something we can all be proud of.

          1. re: rockandroller1

            Costco might be the easiest of the large national/semi-national chains to convert. Costco has always had a customer-first policy and high awareness of how it's perceived. If Greenpeace can use this is a stepping stone for other chains to follow suit, more power to them and I applaud their efforts. Even if they can't get chains to stop selling all non-sustainable seafood, then maybe at least some of the ultra-high risk species (like bluefin tuna).

      2. Good to hear. Hope more retailers follow suit.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Withnail42

          The whole thing begs the question "So, what happens when major chains all start stocking the same breeds of sustainable fish? Wouldn't those fish then be in such high demand that they become unsustainable?"

          Costco's move is definitely a step in the right direction, but the issue is tricky. For more national companies to start selling sustainable seafood in mass without depleting the stocks, companies would need to constantly receive/use up-to-date information on fish populations. Also, responsible management at the government/fishery levels would have to be in place so info is accurate and rules are followed.

          And, when you add imported fish and other countries' fishing policies into the mix, the subject gets INCREDIBLY complicated and cloudy. Clearly the whole issue is complex, and everyone jumping on the sustainable bandwagon isn't by default a perfect solution.

          1. re: KelsEats

            It certainly can get cloudy (I'm sure the Japanese govt thinks their whale meat is just fine), but there are some organizations out there that are doing some great filtering! For example, the non-profit Blue Ocean Institute uses their own sustainability criteria, research scientists and fisheries experts rather than relying on the potentially market swayed government reports. They're also committed to freely distributing this information in easily usable ways. You can access this information at: on a computer browser or on a mobile device.

            It's important to note that to call a fish sustainable, the method that's used to catch the fish is just as important as the size of the population. A line caught fish with a decent population might be considered sustainable while the very same fish caught with bottom trawl would not be... because line catching the fish is pretty unlikely to cause a detrimental dent in the population. Since the very thing that makes it a sustainable method is being able to catch less of it, if the demand goes up significantly, the market price is going to go up as well, reducing the demand for that fish. If for some reason, they did enough damage to the population by line catching the fish, or another unsustainable fishing method made even line catching the fish too risky, it would no longer be considered sustainable and therefore be unavailable to purchase by companies that have made a commitment not to do so. With all of the big boys not buying it, the market would get significantly drier and it just wouldn't make sense to fish the hell out of that population anymore. Is it a silver bullet? No... but as long as enough vendors sign on to it to make it the norm rather than the exception, it would make an astounding difference in our fish populations.

            Using these methods to catch fish is more labor intensive and it yields less product to sell, so it's also going to make the fish more expensive... But since it's a product that's almost always sold at market rates anyway, it's very easy for stores to adjust the prices without incurring much cost themselves.

            There are already many factors when considering where to source seafood on a large scale like one or more large stores, or even a small scale such as a restaurant. Having a consistent source of information and strict guidelines on what level of sustainability you're not able to dip under would probably make it one of the easier considerations when sourcing seafood. Doing things like managing the logistics of reducing transit and storage time, finding vendors with solid certified HACCP plans who actually stick to them, and keeping abreast of vendor food safety incidents are significantly more difficult.

        2. I notice that salmon was oddly absent from the discussion. Meaning that you'll still be able to buy farmed salmon - which, while considered "technically" sustainable - threatens the wild population which is oh so much better in flavor & quality. Same goes for Tilapia.

          Until we learn how to "farm" fish without jeopardizing the wild population, most farmed fish will NOT be "sustainable".

          1 Reply
          1. re: Breezychow

            They currently carry wild sockeye (which I hate), but the rest is not. I guess this means goodbye to the Chilean sea bass, which I'd stopped buying mostly due to over fishing.