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Target commits to 100% sustainable, traceable fish by 2015

A steak is cut from the tail of an Atlantic blue fin tuna.The second largest discount retailer in the U.S. announced Thursday that it will sell only sustainable, traceable fish by 2015. Minneapolis-based Target Corp. operates 1,762 stores, many of which are converting to incorporate PFresh markets that sell fresh and frozen foods, including fish.

In 2010, Target stopped selling farmed salmon, Chilean sea bass and orange roughy due to various sustainability issues. It currently sells 50 different brands of fish certified by either the Marine Stewardship Council or the Global Aquaculture Alliance. 

"We thought this larger commitment to fully eliminate anything that's not certified by 2015 would be the right thing to do to encourage our guests to make the right decisions," said Shawn Gensch, vice president of marketing for Target's sustainability initiatives.

Target is partnering with the nonprofit marine conservation group FishWise to reach its sustainability goals. According to FishWise executive director Tobias Aguirre, the group will assess all Target seafood products with vendor surveys to understand how the seafood is caught or farmed and will evaluate the environmental impacts associated with each product.

Aguirre said the fish species with the largest such impacts include big eye tuna caught with 50-mile fishing lines that snag high levels of unintended catch, including sharks, turtles and sea birds, and farm-raised shrimp that may have contact with natural bodies of water and spread disease.

Tracing Target's fish from the water to the store is likely to be more difficult because "there is no national traceability policy and the seafood supply chains are incredibly complex," Aguirre said. Supplier audits and a tracking system are among the tools FishWise plans to implement in partnership with Target.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently have a seafood tracking database. Just 2% of the seafood eaten in the United States is inspected, according to a seafood fraud report issued earlier this year by the Washington, D.C.-based international ocean advocacy group, Oceana.

RELATED:

Fish often mislabeled as wild salmon or red snapper, report finds

Gov. Jerry Brown signs shark fin ban, sparks protest

Genetically engineered salmon must be labeled

-- Susan Carpenter

Photo: A steak is cut from the tail of an Atlantic blue fin tuna. Credit: Sachi Cunningham / Los Angeles Times

 
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