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February 25, 2011

Costco Greens Up Its Fish Coolers

Images Time to up your tilapia game: As of today, bulk-foods giant Costco will stop selling 12 types of theatened fish species, including Atlantic cod (pictured), halibut and orange roughy, according to a press release from Greenpeace.

The announcement was a huge win for the environmental organization, which had been urging the grocer since last summer to remove 21 so-called "red-listed" fish from its coolers. Last June, Greenpeace kicked off its campaign by launching a green blimp over Costco's corporate headquarters in Issaquah, Wash., near Seattle. Its message: “Costco: wholesale ocean destruction.”

In its revised Seafood and Sustainability policy, Costco officials said they were ceasing sales of "certain wild species that have been nearly universally identified as at great risk" — Atlantic cod and halibut, Chilean sea bass, Greenland halibut, grouper, monkfish, orange roughy, redfish, shark, skates and rays, swordfish and bluefin tuna. The pull could change what ends up on diners' plates, as many chefs and cooks do their shopping at the bulk-foods warehouse.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Casson Trenor was ecstatic. "It's been a long time coming," he said by phone from San Francisco. A staffer at the Colchester branch of Costco was unaware of the change, but yesterday no red-listed seafood was for sale amidst the store's piles of shrimp and salmon.

Greenpeace's seafood strategy is to target offending retailers one by one; the first was Trader Joe's, which adopted some sustainable seafood purchasing policies; Costco was second. Though Trenor wouldn't say who's next, Greenpeace gives Shaw's a pitiful ranking on its website.



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