For months, Greenpeace has waged an aggressive campaign against Costco, claiming that the Issaquah-based retail giant is stocking "destructively fished" seafood. Now, the environmental group suggests that its campaign is working.
"Greenpeace activist surveys have revealed that several of the red list fish have disappeared from Costco shelves," wrote Greenpeace campaigner Casson Trenor in a blog post last week. The "red list," compiled by Greenpeace, denotes seafood that the organization believes is overfished, fished illegally or fished for in a way that destroys the ocean habitat. According to Greenpeace, Costco had been stocking 15 of 22 such species.
To get Costco to stop, Greenpeace set up a website (oh-no-costco.com), encouraged people to write letters to the company and even sent a blimp flying over the company's Issaquah headquarters with the message "Costco Wholesale Ocean Destruction."
Is Costco really caving into the pressure? Trenor says on his blog that he doesn't really know why some of the red list fish is now off the shelves. "Is this a move in the right direction? A clever decoy? Or, merely a seasonal adjustment?"
But Jeff Lyons, Costco's senior vice president of fresh foods, says executives told Greenpeace when the campaign first started back in June that the company was already planning to stop buying some species deemed at risk. Shortly afterward, the company named seven such items: Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, shark, swordfish and bluefin tun.
"We will not resume sales unless our sources are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or a comparably reputable entity," the company announced in a revised seafood policy it posted to its website in July.
Nevertheless, Lyons says Greenpeace ignored that information and kept up its anti-Costco campaign anyway. Trenor and another Greenpeace campaigner leading the effort against Costco could not be reached today for comment.
Even with this self-declared victory, Greenpeace is far from calling off the campaign. "Tell Costco CEO Jim Sinegal to stop being shifty and to stand up for the oceans," urges Trenor on his blog.