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    Fishing for Trouble?

    NFI warns retailers to avoid getting carried away with free-flowing info for sustainble seafood report cards

    “Why in the world would any retailer voluntarily complete an arbitrary survey -- free of transparent methodology -- with a pre-determined outcome?”

    That’s a question that Gavin Gibbons, director of media relations for the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), wants every U.S. supermarket retailer to carefully consider in advance of Greenpeace’s annual “Carting Away the Oceans” report that’s due to be released in the coming weeks.

    Gibbons says the annual seafood sustainability “rank and spank” report will again find retailers being asked to provide in-depth answers to more than 50 loaded questions about the sustainability of their seafood procurement programs, including shelf stable tuna.

    While the alarmist name of the report alone should raise red flags, NFI’s spokesman also urges grocers to consider the following: Never in the survey’s five-year history has a retailer scored better than 65 points on a 100-point scale. Moreover, last year’s edition of Carting Away the Oceans went as far as to tell consumers: “Eat less fish. Reducing seafood consumption now can help lessen the pressure on our oceans…” (page 13).

    Think about that for a minute: In return for their providing activists with potentially sensitive business information, Gibbons says Greenpeace will “accuse retail grocers of Carting Away the Oceans by giving these reputable companies a D-minus at best, and then tell their shoppers to buy less fresh, frozen and shelf-stable seafood.”

    Which again begs the question: “Why in the world would any retailer voluntarily complete an arbitrary survey -- free of transparent methodology -- with a pre-determined outcome?”

    Gibbons minces no words when advocating that “Greenpeace’s five-year track record of extorting information from retail grocers must come to an end.” But ultimately, he adds: “That’s up to retailers. By completing the survey, retailers open themselves up to the activist organization’s subjective, nonscientific evaluation of their business, while simultaneously acknowledging that Greenpeace is a credible and qualified voice in the discourse.”

    To the contrary, Gibbons maintains that Greenpeace has never invested $1 or one hour to improve sustainable fishing practices -- and it shuns the work of highly reputable organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)

    “This scorecard campaign is nothing more than a ploy to get media attention and appeal for donor dollars,” says Gibbons, adding that Greenpeace is “no longer a ragtag group of idealistic college kids. It is a global operation as big and as complex as the businesses it targets.”

    As such, he adds, retailers can -- and should -- avoid being “ranked and spanked” by Greenpeace by simply declining to participate.

    “There’s a lot we can do to protect our ocean’s resources so seafood is readily available for generations to come,” concludes Gibbons. “Filling out a Greenpeace survey, however, is not one of them.”

    For more information, contact Gibbons at [email protected].

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