If you go to www.traitorjoe.com right now, you’ll see the Greenpeace website claiming victory. On March 23, Trader Joe’s announced that all of its seafood purchases will shift to sustainable sources by Dec. 31, 2012.

Lifestyle blogger Siel told us last year that after scoring badly for two years in a row on Greenpeace’s seafood sustainability scorecard, the environmental activist organization created the Traitor Joe’s website to protest Trader Joe’s seafood choices.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t mention Greenpeace’s efforts in its announcement. It says the decision was made based on customer feedback and their “efforts to offer seafood options that fit customer needs ranging from food safety and taste, to concern over the environment.”

In addition to claiming victory on the website, Greenpeace released a press release.

“We applaud Trader Joe’s commitment to creating a strong sustainable seafood policy. We are particularly happy to see Trader Joe’s acknowledge that we need marine reserves, and that species like orange roughy and Chilean sea bass are incompatible with a sustainable seafood operation. We know their customers will appreciate their recent statement of intent. After all, seafood consumers deserve access to transparent, accurate information about the products they choose,” said Senior Markets Campaigner Casson Trenor.
The press release also let it be known that Greenpeace will be watching Trader Joe’s closely to make sure that it implements all of the changes it has promised. In addition to selling only sustainable seafood by the end of 2012, Trader Joe’s has committed to the following:
  • Work with third-party, science-based organizations to establish definitions and parameters for addressing customer concerns about overfishing, destructive catch or production methods, and the importance of marine reserves.
  • Remove “red-listed” seafood from their shelves. Trader Joe’s stopped selling Chilean sea bass in 2005, orange roughy in July of 2009, and red snapper in March of 2010.
  • Provide accurate information on all seafood labels, including species’ Latin names, origin and catch or production method.
  • Use their buying power to leverage change in the seafood industry.
I’m happy to see Trader Joe’s change their seafood policy based on consumer demand and activist pressure. It shows that the company is listening and it cares about what its customers want. It shows that when consumers take advantage of their voices and vote with their wallets (I stopped buying Trader Joe’s seafood — how about you?), good companies will listen. I’m always a huge fan of a company changing its policies because consumers have asked and it’s the right thing to do, not because the government made them do it.

So like Greenpeace, I applaud Trader Joe’s. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Trader Joe's pledges sustainable seafood
Consumers and Greenpeace's Traitor Joe's campaign got the supermarket's attention.