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Greenpeace Calls on Canadian Supermarkets to Protect Oceans

04 July 2014

CANADA - A report by Greenpeace on the sustainability of seafood in Canadian supermarkets has called on the retailers to take more action to protect the oceans.

The report applauds the supermarkets for making progress towards sustainable seafood but it urges them to take the next step and support the creation of oceans sanctuaries.

"Canada's big supermarket chains are making progress on their sustainable seafood commitments, but they can play a bigger role in protecting our oceans," said Sarah King, Greenpeace Canada oceans campaign coordinator.

"Some retailers have expressed support for broader conservation initiatives, but none of them have fully acted on it. A good place to start is a strong commitment not to source from proposed or existing ocean sanctuaries."

The 2014 report, entitled Protecting Our Oceans is Everyone’s Business: Ranking Supermarkets on Seafood Sustainability finds Canada Safeway, acquired by Sobeys in 2013, at the top of the ranking with a green rating.

In addition to the company transitioning to sustainable options on big sellers like canned tuna and net-pen farmed salmon, it also committed not to source from the proposed high seas ocean sanctuaries in the Western and Central Pacific ocean – where most tuna is caught - and to avoid fish caught in the proposed Ross Sea ocean sanctuary.

Loblaw is second, also receiving a green rating and is the most advanced on policy implementation. Metro is third and has expressed support for the creation of marine reserves in a new policy edition, as did Walmart Canada in its latest policy, placing 5th.

The report also reveals that marine protection is what consumers want.

A poll commissioned by Greenpeace Canada and conducted by Stratcom earlier this year found that 78 per cent of Canadians want at least 10 per cent of our oceans protected in the highest form of protection – no-take marine reserves - or ocean sanctuaries. It found that the overwhelming majority (94 per cent) of Canadians want either fully or partially protected areas.

Greenpeace said that less than three per cent of the world’s oceans are protected; in Canadian marine waters that number drops to less than one per cent.

The organisation claims that Canada lags far behind other nations on marine protection, and the federal government is not on track to meet its 10 per cent protection of coastal and marine areas by 2020 commitment made under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Leaders in other countries have been sounding the alarm on the need to act to protect the oceans, Greenpeace said.

Last week, the Global Ocean Commission, comprised of influential business people and former heads of state including The Right Honourable Paul Martin, released a “five-year ocean rescue package” recommending ways to address key threats and ensure protection in the high seas.

Recently US Secretary of State John Kerry, convened world leaders in Washington DC for the Our Ocean Conference where the need for oceans protection was discussed. Right after, President Obama announced that he will create the world’s largest marine reserve.

“As major buyers and sellers of seafood, big retailers could help push governments to act faster to protect our oceans,” says King. “Retailers have the ear of their consumers, the government and their suppliers, so if they start talking about supporting more ocean sanctuaries, people will listen”.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of ocean sanctuaries covering 40 per cent of the world’s oceans to allow marine biodiversity to recover and adapt to threats such as climate change.

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