Overwaitea launches sale of closed containment coho salmon, July 2010

Since 2001, CAAR has been working to push the food sector towards improved seafood sustainability by asking companies not to sell net-cage farmed salmon until the industry can provide a more sustainable product. Net-cage farmed salmon is one of the largest selling seafood items with one of the worst track records for sustainability.

As a result of CAAR’s work, and the work of many other groups, change is taking place in the retail sector.

Retail Sector Pressure on the Net-Cage Salmon Farming Industry

Right now, major grocery stores are increasingly demanding more responsible fish farming practices from their suppliers and, in many cases, encouraging them to implement closed containment technology for salmon aquaculture.

  • Overwaitea Food Group (OFG) is now the exclusive North American retailer for coho salmon more sustainably farmed in a land-based closed containment aquaculture facility (Sweet Spring) in Washington State. The Sweet Spring salmon sold at OFG stores (Save On Foods, Overwaitea, Price Smart, Urban Fare, Bulkley Valley) has received a “Best Choice” ranking from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and SeaChoice for environmental sustainability.
  • Safeway, Loblaw and Overwaitea have all written letters to the federal government of Canada urging investment in closed containment pilot projects. These projects will help get the net-cage industry using more sustainable salmon farming practices more quickly.

Retail Sector Sustainable Seafood Policies

  • Costco announced a revised seafood policy in February 2011 that includes dropping red-listed fish from their stores. The new policy covers most of Costco’s seafood inventory and halts the sale of 12 kinds of fish associated with severe environmental concerns, such as shark, orange roughy, Chilean sea bass and Atlantic halibut. While this list doesn’t include farmed salmon the company stated it will assess certification standards around farmed salmon.
  • Compass Group Canada, the country’s leading foodservice company, has phased out net-cage farmed salmon from all of their locations—including universities across Canada, hospitals, business parks and municipal offices like the City of Ottawa.
  • Marketplace IGA, Choices Market, Meinhardt’s, Nesters Market and the Big Carrot are among the many retail outlets that have said no to unsustainable farmed salmon and have removed this product from their shelves.
  • Target, the second largest discount store in the United States, has eliminated farmed salmon from its fresh, frozen, and smoked seafood offerings in all 1,744 stores in 49 states. When Target made the announcement in early 2010, their shares went up by 4% within hours!

Restaurants Dropping Net-cage Farmed Salmon

Many restaurants have jumped on board with the sustainability movement and have taken unsustainable seafood such as net-cage farmed salmon off the menu. CAAR’s Wild Salmon Supporters is a network of top chefs and trendsetting retailers from all over North America who are concerned about the sustainability of open net-cage salmon farms and the future of wild salmon, and they’re using their influence and their buying power to do something about it.