Traitor Joe’s: Greenpeace Rates Trader Joe’s Unsustainable Seafood Policies

The environmental watchdog Greenpeace has gone after Trader Joe’s with a snarky campaign called Traitor Joe’s, complete with a website, a Traitor Joe’s Twitter account, and a singing fish telegram for consumers to let the company know how they feel about the store’s unsustainable seafood policies. According to the latest Sustainable Seafood Scorecard from Greenpeace, Trader Joe’s gets a big fat F, the worst of all national supermarket chains, for continuing to sell imperiled fish such as orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and swordfish.

Photo: GreenpeaceTraitor Joe's Protest
Traitor Joe's Protest

“Our oceans are in crisis and Trader Joe’s not only lacks a sustainable seafood policy, it has taken no initiative in this area and continues to sell 15 of the 22 “red list” species in our report. If Trader Joe’s doesn’t change their behavior, it’s doubtful they will have any fish left to sell in the near future.” – Casson Trenor, Greenpeace’s Senior Markets Campaigner

Traitor Joe's on Twitter
Traitor Joe's on Twitter

Greenpeace activists in San Francisco went to local stores dressed in Hawaiian shirts similar to those worn by Trader Joe’s employees, and were accompanied by two orange roughy mascots in an attempt to raise awareness to the store’s practice of selling fish on the “red list” (endangered species listed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization). The activists set up a voting booth and asked customers to “vote for sustainable seafood”, and then presented Trader Joe’s with a mock citation.

The campaign, part of a global push by Greenpeace for the survival of fisheries and marine ecosystems over the long-term, urges supermarkets to remove these “red-list”, or most at-risk species, from their stores.

Greenpeace asks supermarkets to step up and meet the consumer demand for sustainable seafood by refusing to sell products from fisheries that exploit vulnerable species, are destructive to marine habitat and cause negative impacts on other species, or fisheries that are managed poorly.

If you eat fish, download the Sustainable Seafood Scorecard (PDF) so you know what to look for and where to shop to reduce the effects of overfishing of critical marine species. You can also head over to Facebook and become a fan of Traitor Joe’s to get the latest from the campaign.

Written by Derek Markham


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  1. Just a shopper…
    1. A Note to Our Customers About Trader Joe’s Seafood
    As we’ve often mentioned, we listen to our customers. Hearing recent feedback, our goal is to offer seafood options that fit customer needs ranging from food safety and taste, to concern over the environment.

    This is not a new development for us. For example, we stopped selling Chilean Sea Bass in 2005 because of customer feedback.

    To continue in our efforts to support this goal, we intend to use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s science-based and research-backed “Seafood Watch” recommendations to help with our seafood purchasing decisions.

    When we do offer seafood species on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch “red” or “avoid” list, we undertake additional steps to fully understand the ways in which those items come to market to be sure they fit with our customers’ needs and concerns. We’re also evaluating alternatives to those red list species.

    As with all the decisions we make about the products we offer, this is an ongoing process. We look forward to sharing our progress with our customers.

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