Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 19 August 2011
I spent a good part of yesterday walking around in the sad-music Charlie Brown pose after reading about Walmart's contribution toward privatizing our oceans.
The company's press release praised projects like catch shares, which have seriously consolidated fleets on the east and west coasts. I understand that Walmart feels the need to greenwash its reputation for profiting from poor labor practices, but must they do it by encouraging the loss of fishing jobs and infrastructure?
Meanwhile, the company has created a partnership with a South African wholesaler to import hake to their U.S. stores — from halfway across the world.
I've got news for Walmart: You can get sustainable American hake from the same people whose jobs your donation may eliminate in New England.
But of course the benefit of the partnership with the South African company is touted as creating 100 jobs in South Africa.
I understand Walmart is an international company. And as such, it is wise for them to create partnerships with companies in other nations. But what is the point of importing to U.S. stores from an African company the same fish they can source from American fishermen?
I sincerely wish Walmart would take their nearly $72 million contribution to non-governmental groups and redirect it to collaborative research — cooperative efforts between scientists and fishermen. The result of which is better information on habitats and gear, better management, and improved fisheries. Our whole country would benefit from these improvements, but Walmart specifically would get bragging rights for the creation of American jobs and the bonus of hake for their U.S. stores. All right here at home.
Now that might give me a reason to shop at Walmart.
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