Coral Reefs Love BJ’s
Every once in a while we see a large corporation make a move that is both in their own financial interests as well as in the interest of our planet. The large wholesale club BJ’s made just such a move announcing that all the seafood that they sell in their stores will have to be sourced from seafood suppliers that have been identified as being sustainable or who are on track to be labeled as such by 2014. This move has the potential to create a model which other businesses can use to conduct their purchasing and marketing in a more sustainable fashion.
How do we Know the Seafood is Sustainable?
BJ’s has partnered with Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) who will help them assess the vendors that they procure seafood from. In their words this will help them “evaluate products and suppliers against the newest science and best industry practices to engage in constant improvement.” We also find it interesting that BJ’s is not limiting this to fresh seafood, but also to frozen which increases the scope of this policy tremendously. “We will also be using fisheries that create products that adhere to strong standards such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) www.msc.org for wild captured seafood and Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) www.gaalliance.org for aquaculture (farmed) seafood. We are also in the process of complete transparency in the traceability of our seafood products to their source, while continuing to source from fisheries and fish farms that reduce the impact of fishing on the other marine life and habitats.” The goal being that in 2014 they will have a process in place that helps them select vendors and distributors that have the long term best interests for the environment and their business in mind.
How are Coral Reefs Affected?
Specifically speaking, it is not necessarily the harvesting that makes the seafood industry so detrimental to coral reefs. The danger to reefs is more acutely focused on archaic harvesting methods in which nets or trawls are dragged across areas that have coral reef life. These fishing methods are indiscriminate and often result in large amounts of bi-catch as well as physical destruction of reefs as the fishing gear is dragged across them. One of the mandates that the SFP will have in their partnership with BJ’s is to make sure that fisheries and seafood suppliers are utilizing the most up to date technology in their fishing methods. In addition to coral reefs, this technology has been instrumental in reducing bi-catch of other near reef inhabitants like sea turtles and dolphins.
Wagging the Dog
With social media permeating every aspect of our lives, we see consumers (rather than corporations and ad firms) driving marketing. This “social media marketing” has the potential to create a virtual exposure explosion that can quickly raise consumer awareness across the country. A move like this by BJ’s can create such an effect. While BJ’s is just one company in a whole group of bulk purchasing warehouse retailers, their large footprint in 15 states with over 190 stores can hopefully help create some market demand for these sustainable business practices. It will be up to us as the consumers to act locally. If the demand can be created, other retailers will get on board with practices like the one BJ’s is instituting today. Please help make that happen by sharing this message in whatever fashion you like.