Costco Marches Forward On Seafood Sustainability Greenpeace Suspends Campaign, Celebrates Retail Giant’s Progress

Greenpeace USA congratulated Costco Corporation on its newly revised sustainability seafood policy. The new policy covers the vast majority of the chain’s seafood inventory and means the retailer will discontinue sales of twelve kinds of fish associated with severe environmental concerns, including shark, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and Atlantic halibut.

Costco, one of the largest seafood retailers in the Western Hemisphere, also pledged to pursue aquaculture certification standards that support best practices, as farmed salmon and farmed shrimp are two of its largest volume items.

“It is important that the items we offer our customers are those that we can continue to provide well into the future and to provide responsibly,” said Jeff Lyons, Costco senior vice president. “Our policy will help us to continue to meet the demands of our customers, who look to us for high quality items at great value.”

Greenpeace has suspended its campaign to persuade Costco to improve its seafood retail practices in recognition of the progress demonstrated by the retail titan. Based on the significant shift announced by Costco, the company is likely to leap up the charts on Greenpeace’s forthcoming annual Carting Away the Oceans seafood sustainability ranking. The next edition of the report is due to be released this April.

“This new policy is a sign of tremendous progress, and we are indebted to the  thousands of Greenpeace supporters who told Costco they wanted to buy sustainable seafood,” said Casson Trenor, Senior Markets Campaigner for Greenpeace. “While there is still a long way to go, we are very pleased with the steps that Costco has taken and their ongoing commitments.”

Given Costco’s size and market share the changes announced by the company today will have far reaching implications for the industry and significant benefits for marine ecosystems.

“Costco’s progress is further proof that sustainable business practices and the seafood industry not only can come together, but in fact must do so,” said Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. “Unless we stop pretending that we can catch, farm, and sell as much fish as we like, we will find ourselves with empty nets and empty oceans.”

Costco’s policy states that the company may continue to sell these discontinued species if they are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which is the most recognized independent certifier of sustainable fisheries.

“We recognize that Costco is moving in the right direction,” said Trenor. “That said, Greenpeace shares the concerns some scientists and environmental groups have voiced about the MSC and its standards. Hopefully a progressive company like Costco will use its significant purchasing power to push the MSC to continue to improve and become the gold standard that we all hope it will be.”

In the coming months, Greenpeace will continue to focus on the canned tuna sector and its impact on the planet. “The language in Costco’s revised policy indicates an awareness of tuna as a challenge that needs to be addressed,” said Radford. “We are hopeful that Costco will lead the charge on making this a more
sustainable sector.”

Greenpeace is an independent global organization, campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans and for a more sustainable fishing industry, necessary steps to restoring our oceans to health.

The Costco seafood policy can be viewed at

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