Ocean-friendly labeling for sustainable seafood lauded by eco groups
Beacon Staff Reporter
Sustainable seafood will now be clearly labeled for customers at Canada Safeway, thanks to a new consumer information program unveiled yesterday.
Customers will now be able to easily identify which fresh and frozen seafood items are the best ocean-friendly choices.
Through the SeaChoice ranking program (akin to a traffic light system), Safeway customers will learn which seafood items are ranked as “Green” (first/best choice products) and “Yellow” (second choice with some concerns).
This user-friendly system found at Safeway seafood counters across western Canada, includes product labels, point-of-sale signage, wallet guides and informative initiatives to help guide customers in their sustainable seafood choices.
Canada Safeway also celebrates the launch of its new SAFEWAY label “responsibly caught” affordable skipjack canned tuna.
The product is the first private-label brand in North America to make a commitment to using only tuna caught by free-school purse-seine methods and not caught by using harmful Fish-Aggregating-Devices (FADs).
FADs have been shown to cause significant ecosystem damage as unintended species, such as sea turtles, sharks, rays and juvenile tuna, are attracted by the devices and injured or destroyed in the process of catching tuna.
Safeway now requires that this new FAD-free skipjack canned tuna includes only free-school tuna caught by purse-seiners using traditional methods of radar, sonar and binocular observance by the captain.
In 2012, Safeway discontinued its private label yellowfin canned tuna because of FAD concerns.
They are implementing these new specifications at a time when the tuna fishing industry is finding better ways to avoid the negative impacts associated with FADs. Safeway’s move to eliminate FAD-caught tuna is part of an effort to make all SAFEWAY-label canned tuna more responsibly sourced.
“It is an important day for Canada Safeway as we put our updated sustainable seafood policy into action,” said Bill Sexsmith, VP of sales, for Canada Safeway. “At the core of our policy is a commitment that by 2015, all fresh and frozen seafood, as well as our private-labeled canned tuna will be sourced from sustainable and traceable sources, or be in a credible improvement project.”
Demand for seafood has increased substantially over the last 50 years and today one billion people globally depend on seafood as a source of protein. Only recently has more awareness about sustainable seafood come to the forefront.
“Balancing the needs of our customers and the needs of our planet is a challenge that the grocery industry faced on a daily basis. By working with partners such as SeaChoice and our various suppliers, we strive to provide high-quality seafood that is not only a ‘best choice’ for our customers but also for our planet’s oceans,” Sexsmith said.
“SeaChoice applauds the significant efforts, dedication and leadership from Canada Safeway in implementing their sustainable seafood policy,” said Kelly Roebuck, SeaChoice representative from Living Oceans Society.
“The announcement demonstrates just one of the many progressive steps and achievements made thus far towards their commitment to source sustainably by 2015,” Roebuck added.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace congratulated Canada Safeway on becoming the first retailer in Canada to provide consumers with a sustainable seafood option.
In 2012, Canada Safeway placed fifth out of 14 brands in Greenpeace’s canned tuna sustainability ranking, reflecting strong steps taken to source more sustainable tuna. The 2013 ranking will be released in early spring with hopes of other major retailers taking similarly strong steps to ensure healthy tuna stocks and oceans.
Greenpeace has called upon Canada’s major private label and national brands to stop sourcing from purse seine vessels employing FADs.