Trader Joe’s to Adopt Sustainable Seafood Policy After Greenpeace Campaign

Supermarket chain Trader Joe’s has announced that by the end of 2012, all seafood it sells will be from sustainable sources.

The move follows a months’ long campaign by Greenpeace to lobby the popular retailer to change its seafood sourcing practices. The campaign included a pirate-themed website, “Traitor Joe’s,” which now praises the retailer for “turning over a new barnacle.”

Despite its reputation as an ethical company, fueled no doubt by its folksy marketing and simplified, vegetarian-friendly selection, Trader Joe’s last year placed 17th out of 20 national supermarkets in a ranking of sustainable seafood policies.

In addition to switching to sustainable seafood, Trader Joe’s has also promised to:

  • Work with third-party, science-based organizations to establish definitions and parameters for addressing customer concerns about overfishing, destructive catch or production methods, and the importance of marine reserves.
  • Remove “red-listed” seafood from shelves.
  • Provide accurate information on all seafood labels, including species’ Latin names, origin and catch or production method.
  • Use its buying power to leverage change in the seafood industry.

TJ’s says it stopped selling Chilean Sea Bass in 2005, Orange Roughy in July of 2009, and Red Snapper in March of 2010, but Greenbiz reports that Greenpeace found Chilean Sea Bass being sold in Trader Joe’s locations last year.

Either way, unsustainable fish should be gone from TJ’s shelves in 2 1/2 years, but let’s hope a lot sooner.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.