Woolworths Launches Sustainable Seafood Plan

Major Australian supermarket Woolworths is committing to sustainable seafood with their new sustainable fish sourcing strategy, announced in March 2011.  This strategy includes the removal of overfished species and an assessment of current seafood sources.

Woolworths' Three-Part Seafood Strategy
The first part of Woolworths' sustainable seafood plan is stocking MSC-certified seafood products.  Beginning in April 2011, consumers will be able to purchase both canned salmon and canned Albacore tuna that has been certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).  MSC is an eco-labeling organization that certifies fisheries after evaluating their environmental impact.  Fisheries that receive MSC certification are those whose fishing practices do not damage the eco-system or compromise the population of the fish they catch.  Woolworths' shoppers should expect to find MSC-certified salmon and tuna at a reasonable price.

The second part of Woolworths' sustainable seafood plan is to stop the sale of red-listed species.  Non-sustainable fish species such as orange roughy and yellowfin tuna will no longer be available in Woolworths stores.  Yellowfin tuna, also called ahi, is common in raw dishes such as sashimi.  Though it was once touted as the better alternative to the overfished bluefin tuna, conservation groups such as Greenpeace and Monterey Bay Aquarium have recently red-listed yellowfin tuna.  The Marine Stewardship Council is currently evaluating several yellowfin tuna fisheries, and if a MSC-certified source of this fish becomes available, it may reappear in Woolworths' stores.

The third part of Woolworths' sustainable seafood plan is to asses seafood sources and create a  sustainable supply chain.  But Woolworths hopes to retain many of their current sources rather than switch to new sustainable seafood fisheries.  In an effort to help their current sources become more sustainable, Woolworths will offer funding incentives to fisheries that are willing to improve their practices.  The intention behind the funding incentives is to encourage fisheries to meet MSC standards and reduce their environmental impact.

Welcome Woolworths to the Sustainable Seafood Club

By announcing their new sustainable seafood strategy, Woolworths is joining other corporations such as Costco and Marriott in the effort to protect the world's oceans.  Based on their other environmental policies, such as reducing carbon emissions, in 2009 Woolworths Limited ranked number 364 on the Global 1000 list.  Woolworths operates more than 3,000 stores in Australia and New Zealand, making them the largest supermarket chain down under, and a potential leader in the sustainable seafood movement.

Photo Credit:  Michael Malz