US retailer says no to Ross Sea seafood

Thursday 8 March 2012, 8:06AM

By Greenpeace Aotearoa


A third US retailer has announced it will not stock seafood from Antartica’s Ross Sea for environmental reasons, reports Greenpeace.

Harris Teeter joins US supermarket chains Safeway (1) and Wegmans (2) by taking the ‘Ross Sea Pledge’ which means it will not buy or sell seafood from that area. It is also calling for the entire Ross Sea to be protected.

“We have pledged not to buy or sell any seafood harvested from the Ross Sea,” the company states on its website (3).

“By taking the “Ross Sea Pledge,” we encourage the nations who are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to designate the entire Ross Sea as an MPA [Marine Protected Area],” it continues.

The Ross Sea has been identified as the least human affected large oceanic ecosystem remaining on Earth (4). Many Scientists are advocating for it to be designated as a fully protected marine reserve (5). However, a longline fishery for Antarctic toothfish, started by New Zealand vessels in the late 1990s, is operating in the Ross Sea and supplying the luxury market.

“The delicate balance of the fragile Ross Sea is under threat from commercial fishing,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Oceans Campaigner Karli Thomas.

“Although technology has made it possible, it is simply not sustainable to be fishing every last corner of our ocean. The Ross Sea is a special place that we should be protecting as the home to diverse and unique wildlife, and a refuge in the face of climate change – not exploiting to feed the wealthy.”

In 2010 Greenpeace published a report outlining the role that seafood traders, retailers and chefs can play in protecting the Ross Sea (6).

“The announcement by Harris Teeter shows there is a growing awareness by retailers that the Ross Sea should be protected as no-go area,” says Thomas

The recently formed Antarctic Ocean Alliance (7), a group of environmental organisations, last week launched a report calling for a large-scale marine reserve to be established in the Ross Sea (8).



(1) Safeway's commitment:

(2) Wegmans' commitment:

(3) Harris Teeter's commitment:

(4) Halpern, B.S. et al. 2008. A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems. Science 319, pp. 948 – 952.

(5) Scientists’ Consensus Statement on Protection of the Ross Sea:

(6) Greenpeace (2010) “Defending the Last Ocean”

(7) The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) is a coalition of environmental and conservation organisations from around the world working to establish a network of designated, no-take marine reserves and marine protected areas in the Antarctic.

(8) Antarctic Ocean Alliance (2012) “A marine reserve for the Ross Sea”