Major US Grocery Chain Urged to Stop Selling Endangered Shark Falls on Deaf Ears

Southern California - After weeks of failed attempts to have Supervalu/Albertson's recognize the err in their environmental ways, we are now forced to publicize their lack of global eco-awareness regarding the plight of sharks. As we launch our campaign the company continues to drag its heels as shark populations teeter closer to extinction.

Ignorance is no longer a defense:
We are in a time where we must think on a global scale in regards to the impact we have on our environment. We must not be oblivious to what happens outside our own backyard. Everything we do as individuals, consumers and decision makers has far reaching global implications. Our failure to act once supplied with facts is by far the largest immoral act against nature.

Failed attempts
After initially contacting Albertson's we were referred to Stephanie Martin, the director of communications for parent company Supervalu. We supplied the information she would require to make a swift executive decision, to immediately remove all shark products from their sea food counters - Facts including: 60 times more mercury than is recommended by the FDA. The fact that shark populations on a global scale are close to 90% extinct. Ms. Martin replied to our urging with a form letter that did not even touch on nor seem to grasp the urgency of their actions.

In a follow-up email to Supervalu, Ms Martin briefly responded, ensuring us that our inquiries were escalated to a higher department and that we would receive a response shortly. We never heard from Ms. Martin nor Supervalu again despite several attempts. Their silence speaks volumes to the environmental urgency we face as shark populations continue to be decimated. Supervalu/Albertson's is clearly more interested in selling a product which no doubt accounts for minimal profits rather than remove a product with devastating global implications. Or, is it that they still do not see their local involvement as a problematic contribution from a global perspective.

In thier own words
The following screen shot from their website outlines the company's stance of environmental stewardship. Although their printed message is encouraging their actions regarding the sale of shark completely unravels any positive environmental progression as an organization.

(excerpt from Supervalu website professing global awareness)

Why selling shark is wrong
The Environmental Defense Fund and the IUCN lists Thresher Shark as an ECO-WORST choice due to dangerous levels of mercury and the fact that all shark species are under threat of global collapse. Sharks are typically caught using equipment called longlines. These are fishing lines usually miles long with thousands of baited hooks. The impact from this type of fishing is really recognized with the amount of bycatch which includes sea turtles, sea birds and any other animal that gets close to the floating mass of hooks.

Sharks suffer from bad PR
Why are sharks so endangered yet so unprotected? Simply because of the media and our opinions of these magnificent creatures. Sharks are often portrayed as voracious eating machines with gaping bloody jaws lunging out of the water at their prey. Yet the fact is these animal are some of the most misunderstood species in the world. To see them in their natural habitat is truly a life changing experience. You find that they have no interest in hurting you, they are calm timid creatures that are more inquisitive and shy than aggressive and predatory.

Think of sharks as the elephants of southern California
We know it's wrong to kill an elephant for its tusks or to use it for bush meat right? We know that there is a movement that we all support to stop the pouching of these beautiful gentle giants. We do not have an elephant pouching problem here in the US. It is not a local issue yet we would be outraged if we heard of such a violent act being carried out in our own backyard. So why should it be any different for the shark?

We will loose many shark species in our life time

Many shark species have been driven close to 90% extinct but there is still a large Asian shark fin industry and sharks continue to be killed in American waters everyday. Why don't we care about them? Simple. We fear what we do not understand. If sharks are wiped out as the top apex predator it will have far reaching and devastating effects here on land. We have already seen other fisheries collapse because sharks have been removed from the food chain on the east coast. Mollusk fisheries are now under attack by the Atlantic Cow nose bat rays whose populations where once controlled by sharks.

What the experts say:
"The experts found that the sharks and rays, including the Thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus), the Silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) and the Shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) are at risk of extinction due to targeted fishing for valuable fins and meat, as well as indirect bycatch in other fisheries. In most cases, these catches are unregulated and unsustainable."

The International Union for Conservation of Nature warns against the consumption of shark

Supervalu's own website professes global awareness yet continues to participate in the selling of a product known by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to be not only seriously depleted but extremely dangerous to consume. Women; both pregnant or otherwise and children should NEVER eat shark according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (IUCN)

What the Environmental Defense Fund says about Albertson's product

The following screen shot from the EDF website illustrates the product Albertson's/Supervalu continues to sell to its customers:

(from the Environmental Defense Fund website: http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=15755)

Ask them why
It's time to ask Alberton's/Supervalu why they continue to sell endangered shark even after being supplied with endless facts and figures. It's time to demand that, as consumers we will no longer patronize a store with such little regard for our environment on a global scale.

Have your say

We are asking the public to contact the following Supervalu executives and tell them that we will no longer shop in their stores until endangered sharks are removed permanently from their sea food counters.

Please contact the following:

Stephanie Martin
Director of Communications

Supervalu Corporate contact:

Albertson's contact:

The International Union for Conservation of Nature: http://www.iucn.org/
IUCN Redlist: http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Environmental Defense Fund: http://www.edf.org
EDF ECO-watch: http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=16301

Join our Aquatic Army: http://www.facebook.com/OceanicDefense


  1. bravo for your efforts-- there is no reason to kill or eat any animal, especially ones that are in a fragile position like sharks

  2. Excellent work. I also respect the fact that you have repeatedly tried to do this in private before making it public. I've sent off an email to Stephanie Martin today. It disgusts me when corporations claim they follow "environmental stewardship" and then do the exact opposite. (By the way I run my own small business, so I am certainly not anti-business). I can acknowledge the fact that Albertson's may have not understood what they were doing when they initially made the decision to sell shark. Their actions are now inexcusable after they have been informed about the environmental impact. Please do your part and contact the company and let them know that you will spend your grocery money elsewhere until this is changed.

  3. Received a form letter response to my email from Stephanie Martin at Supervalu. The company just doesn't get it, nor do they care to. The email response follows:

    Dear Mr. Thomas:
    Thank you for contacting us regarding seafood sustainability. SUPERVALU’s goal is to provide our customers with the widest variety and freshest selection of quality products possible. Because seafood sustainability is an important issue for SUPERVALU, we will continue to monitor and ensure compliance of the vendor community with government regulations, will support programs that are adopted as industry standards, and will stay attuned to new technologies that support the seafood industry.
    One way we’ve stayed informed of developments on the issues is through our ongoing participation in the sustainability task force led by the Food Marketing Institute. We also consult regularly with other governmental and industry organizations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Fisheries Institute (NFI).
    In addition, SUPERVALU has a formal, cross-functional Consumer Interest Advisory Council – comprised of company, vendor and third-party members – to provide guidance and counsel to SUPERVALU on matters related to animal welfare, food safety, consumer advocacy and corporate citizenship.
    We recently published our 2009 Corporate Social Responsibility report, which highlights our commitment to the principles of social responsibility and our activities in areas such as environmental stewardship, philanthropy, civic participation and community involvement. If you are interested, you can access the report on our web site (www.supervalu.com).
    As a company, SUPERVALU believes that education, associate awareness, ongoing commitment from our vendor suppliers, partnerships with the public, and ongoing verification practices surrounding seafood sustainability are key elements to maintaining sound animal welfare practices at SUPERVALU retail banners. We will continue to pursue our efforts with regards to seafood sustainability and appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

  4. I will never shop at Albertson's again, and I will encourage all my many friends to make the same decision. To sell it is very very bad, but to advertise proudly that they sell it is horrendous. I have been a loyal Albertson's customer, but never again. Never again.

  5. You're not getting to the right person. Director of Communications is not the person to determine what products are put on the shelves. Director of Communications is basically the executive level receptionist. Go after the decision makers, not the letter writers.

  6. Thank you all for your comments. Since this first article was published we have now been in touch with every member of the board of directors. We have not received 1 email in return.