Greenpeace rates the fish sellers so you don't have to

Greenpeace rates top 20 fish sellersAre you confused by the many reports about fish, which are safe to eat, which are being depleted? Do you want to do right by the environment but don't know enough about ichthyology (the study of fish)? Greenpeace has just unveiled the latest iteration of its Supermarket Seafood Sustainability rating, and suggests that your time is better spent finding a merchant that you trust than trying to do your own on-the-fly evaluations of what's in the display case.

Casson Trenor, Senior Markets Campaigner for Greenpeace, explained by phone that the organization rated the top 20 fish sellers in the U.S. on four attributes.
  • Policy -- do they have one for issues like wild vs. farmed fish, sustainably-harvested stock, and fish caught in highly wasteful ways, such as bottom trawling?

  • Support initiatives -- do they participate in partnerships to support ocean conservation?
  • Transparency -- Do they label products so that consumers can tell what it is and where it's from? Is the "chain of custody" of the product maintained so that you can be sure you're getting what you are promised?
  • Inventory -- Do they still sell "red list" fish such as shark, orange roughy and hoki and other depleted or overfished or irresponsibly-harvested species?
So how do the big 20 stack up?

1. Target
2. Wegmans
3. Whole Foods
4. Safeway
5. Ahold
6. Harris Teeter
7. A&P
8. Delhaize
9. Wal-Mart
10. Trader Joe's

20. H.E. B.
19. Meijer
18. Winn-Dixie
17. Publix
16. Giant Eagle
14. Costco
13. Kroger
12. ALDI
11. PriceChopper

I asked Trenor what first step consumers should take to determine if they are making an ethical choice in their fish purchase. He told me that most people would expect him to suggest that consumers educate themselves about the fish industry, types of fish and the problems facing each species. However, he feels that the complexity of the problems and the changing dynamics are such that consumers could well be overwhelmed by the issues.

Better, he believes, that consumers use this tool to determine which vendors are doing the best job in these issues and reward them with their dollars. Hence, this list.

Knowing that many readers deem Greenpeace controversial and therefore will question its conclusions, I invite you to read the report yourself. Me, I'm sticking with Target when I'm in the market for fish.

Got a customer service issue you need help with? Jean Chatzky will be on your side! Just email and she'll see what she can do to get your case resolved.
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