Publix seafood practices score a failing grade of 2.7 out of 10, according to the environmental group Greenpeace. A study by the organization's Carting Away the Oceans project (CATO) analyzed major grocers such as Target, Safeway, Whole Foods, and Winn-Dixie. Publix landed at 19 among the 20 supermarkets analyzed.
The study took into consideration each supermarket's progressive policy development, public support for conservation methods, and the elimination of unsustainable seafood items.
It also considered the amount of "red-list" species -- fish that are at high risk of being sourced from unsustainable catching methods and fisheries -- that are available at the supermarkets for sale.
Publix failed because it continues to sell 15 of 22 "red-listed" species, such as Alaskan pollock, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sea scallops, Chilean sea bass, grouper, red snapper, South Atlantic albacore tuna, and tropical shrimp.
In 2010, the chain announced the beginning of a seafood grading initiative. But two years later, this system still has not been implemented. Labeling at Publix was also deemed insufficient, since the supermarket does not provide enough information to encourage consumer awareness about sustainable seafood.
Greenpeace also noted that Publix ignored the organization's invitation to participate in the study. As a result, all of the information was compiled from public reports, consumer information, and other readily available information.
The highest scores were awarded to Whole Foods and Safeway, which both actively participated in the study. Both chains were presented as leaders in the industry for their efforts in promoting sustainable seafood practices.
On Earth Day, April 22, Whole Foods announced it would no longer carry any fish considered unsustainable. The announcement, via the Whole Foods blog, stressed that the retailer would not offer any species that suffer from overfishing or any catching methods that might harm natural habitats. This plan made Whole Foods the first national retailer to stop selling all red-listed seafood.
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The worst score was awarded to Winn-Dixie, with 1.15 out of 10, for the lack of any sustainable seafood policy.
CATO noted that scores have been increasing annually as major grocers become more aware of the importance of sourcing sustainable seafood.