MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesotans love to eat fish, but the success and popularity of some fish have led to serious concerns about the future of those varieties. After all, there literally are only so many fish in the sea.

It’s such a serious concern, Minneapolis-based Target Corporation has pledged to only sell sustainable seafood in its stores by 2015. So, which fish are OK to eat?

“Because we’re big corporation, we have the mass, the messaging, the power of the brand,” said Shawn Gensch, a Target Marketing Vice-President in charge of sustainability initiatives.

Already, Target stocks 50 different brands of certified sustainable seafood and it’ll spend the next couple years analyzing its entire supply chain, not only to make the produce sustainable, but traceable. So, they’ll know where all the fish comes from.

“It is really important for someone of our size to work with distributors, to work with fisheries, to work, obviously, with us as a retailer — to be able to deliver something on a broader scale,” Gensch said.

Through the sheer power of its size, Target will make this happen for all outside brands and all store brands, including Archer Farms.

Target is partnering with a non-profit, FishWise, to analyze and implement the change.

“We work with Target, we have a similar partnership with Safeway, most of the major retailers have partnered with an environmental organization within the conservation alliance,” said Tobias Aguirre, executive director of FishWise. “Part of the theory of change is that they commit to source more sustainable seafood, and communicate the necessary improvements down through the supply chain. We think there’s huge potential to bring about positive change through these large buyers.”

On the same day Target made that announcement, a small group of Minnesota chefs gathered at the Minnesota Zoo for an event called “Fish Bites.”

Nine chefs, including the chefs at Masu, Heidi’s, Meritage, Stella’s and Firelake pledged to join the zoo’s Fish Smart program, agreeing to train their staff on sustainable seafood and only use sustainable seafood on the menus.

“Seventy percent of oceans fish are overfished, exploited, or near the point of collapse,” he said. “Ninety percent of fish we eat come from three species: salmon, tuna and shrimp. There’s no way the earth’s demand for protein from seafood can sustain that.”

Already overfishing doomed the Chilean Sea Bass and orange roughy. Both are near extinction, and Target pulled both varieties off its shelves in 2010.

Farmed salmon is also no-longer sold at Target, although there are some certified sustainable farmed salmon popping up on the market now.

What else should we avoid? “Ahi tuna,” said Nelson, “It’s a large predator fish. They’re being overfished to the point of collapse.”

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, red snapper, Atlantic cod, imported shrimp, yellowtail, and monkfish are all on the AVOID list. They color-code it as red.

“The red list isn’t forever,” noted Nelson. “So, they will come back, we just have to leave them alone for awhile.”

Jason DeRusha

Comments (3)
  1. Dawn says:

    Good job, Target! It is nice to see a large corporation lead the way with an environmental issue.

    If the general public clearly understood how endangered some species of fish are, sport fishing for large trophy fish would be banned.

  2. Otto says:

    So which of those groups do you belong to righteous one? My bet is on the second or fourth ones.