Ecology Action Centre

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Major Canadian retailer commits to sustainable seafood policy

SeaChoice partnership with Overwaitea Food Group marks major milestone for sustainable seafood movement

SeaChoice partners with Overwaitea Food Group on bold sustainable seafood project

June 11, 2009

A new collaboration between the Overwaitea Food Group and SeaChoice, Canada’s national seafood program, is making it easier for Canadians to buy seafood that promotes healthy oceans.

Renowned environmentalist David Suzuki appeared at the partnership’s unveiling today at a Save-On-Foods store in Vancouver.

“The future health of our oceans depends on our ability to protect wild fish stocks and the marine environments they live in,” Dr. Suzuki said. “To help achieve this, we need retailers to provide customers with sustainable seafood and stop selling unsustainable products.”

The Overwaitea Food Group, which operates 117 stores across 80 communities in Western Canada, is one of North America’s first grocery retailers to commit to a sustainable seafood policy.

As part of that policy, OFG is working with SeaChoice to develop and implement a sixpoint sustainability plan for the procurement and sale of seafood in its stores. The retailer has committed to:

  • offering customers sustainable seafood options and reducing procurement of unsustainable seafood
  • providing transparency and traceability information on seafood products they sell openly collecting and sharing information regarding OFG’s sustainability practices
  • educating its team members, suppliers and customers on sustainable seafood
  • encouraging policymakers to improve and develop laws and regulations that support sustainability
  • ensuring a sustainable future for seafood stocks

“This agreement between SeaChoice and the Overwaitea Food Group represents a major milestone along the path to achieving healthy oceans,” said Bill Wareham, SeaChoice representative and marine conservation specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation.

“OFG is going to be one of the first seafood retailers in Canada to show how companies can play a significant leadership role in realizing positive change for our oceans.”

As part of its early efforts to implement a sustainable seafood policy, the Overwaitea Food Group has dropped several red-listed products from its store shelves, including Chilean seabass, yellowfin tuna and orange roughy. The company is working to source more seafood options for its customers that meet SeaChoice’s green list criteria, which can be found online at www.seachoice.org.

“We congratulate OFG for its commitment to sustainable seafood. This partnership is a great example of how forward-thinking retailers can partner with organizations like SeaChoice to make a difference and improve the health of our oceans,” said Sabine Jessen, national manager of Oceans and Great Freshwater Lakes with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Formed in 2006, SeaChoice is a national program that provides science-based sustainability assessments of seafood and helps Canadian businesses and consumers make sustainable seafood choices. More than 250,000 printed copies of the program’s guide to sustainable seafood, Canada’s Seafood Guide, are in circulation across the country.

SeaChoice is a joint initiative of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society and Sierra Club BC, and works in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.
 

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