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Greenpeace Launches Aggressive Campaign Against Costco

Greenpeace Costco ad

Greenpeace gets a lot of flack for its aggressive, embarrassing campaigns against corporations, but the simple truth is that they often work. That's why we have some hope that the organization's most recent campaign, which derides Costco's lack of sustainable seafood policies, could result in real changes.

The campaign, dubbed "Oh No Costco!" highlights Costco's practice of selling 15 out of Greenpeace's 22 red-listed species (destructively farmed seafood). The company also refuses to answer Greenpeace's inquiries about its sustainable seafood policies.

But why target Costco instead of other stores that sell red-list seafood? We're guessing it's just the biggest target available—other stores called out by Greenpeace for unsustainable practices (Winn-Dixie, Publix, Meijer) just don't have the same reach as Costco. Greenpeace elaborates on the Oh No Costco campaign site :

Over the past two-and-a-half years, Greenpeace has repeatedly asked Costco about its seafood policies and practices, both in preparation for our original Carting Away the Oceans report and for subsequent retailer performance updates: The company has failed to respond to any of Greenpeace’s inquiries. Greenpeace surveys found that Costco continues to sell 15 of the 22 red-listed seafood species: Alaskan pollock, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sea scallops, Chilean sea bass, grouper, monkfish, ocean quahog, orange roughy, red snapper, redfish, South Atlantic albacore tuna, swordfish, tropical shrimp, and yellowfin tuna. In addition, Costco doesn’t sufficiently label seafood products.

The Oh No Costco Web site is only one part of Greenpeace's campaign against the wholesale chain. Earlier this week, Greenpeace hung a longline featuring replicas of endangered marine species at a Vancouver Costco. The longline was accompanied with a banner reading, "Costco Wholesale Ocean Destruction." A blimp flying above Issaquah, Washington yesterday was emblazoned with the same phrase.

It might seem like overkill, but consider this: A similar campaign against Trader Joe's (or "Traitor Joe's," as Greenpeace labeled the chain) actually spurred the store to move away from red-list species. Trader Joe's recently pledged to work with third-party organizations to address customer sustainability concerns, leverage its buying power to create change in the seafood industry, and remove all red-listed seafood by the end of 2012. Can Costco be far behind?