Wild Oats Markets, Inc. (Nasdaq: OATS) today announced that it has resumed offering North Atlantic swordfish in its stores. In 1999, the company discontinued offering North Atlantic swordfish, orange roughy and Chilean sea bass due to concerns over dwindling populations.
In the past year, the international community has taken significant steps to ensure the long-term sustainability of North Atlantic swordfish. In November of 1999, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) reduced swordfish quotas. In addition, in August of this year, the United States government announced seasonal closures of North Atlantic swordfish nursery areas in the U.S. to commercial fishing, helping to ensure a safe environment for them to grow to maturity.
Unfortunately, the sustainability of orange roughy and Chilean sea bass continues to be in question. Often caught before they have a chance to reproduce, populations of these fish continue to decline due to overfishing and indiscriminate fishing tactics. Wild Oats will not carry orange roughy and Chilean sea bass until a recovery plan that will restore the populations to sustainable levels is adopted.
Mike Gilliland, founder and CEO of Wild Oats, said, “Wild Oats has been built on the belief that each decision we make must take into account its effect on future generations. It’s imperative that we ensure a future that is ecologically, socially and economically sustainable.” Mr. Gilliland went on to state, “Each of us has the right to know about and understand these issues. That is why we present these issues to our guests so they can make informed and responsible decisions.” As a socially responsible corporation, Wild Oats, Inc. gave more than $1 million in 1999 to over 1,200 non-profit community organizations.
Chilean sea bass, another name for Patagonian toothfish, is a native of the Antarctic. A slow-maturing fish that can live up to 50 years, its remote habitat makes over-fishing difficult to regulate. The National Audobon Society says that the Patagonian toothfish could be commercially extinct by 2005. Orange roughy takes up to 30 years to sexually mature and can live to be over 100 years old. According to the National Audobon Society, orange roughy are slow to recover from overfishing, and concerns remain that attempts made to control overfishing have been inadequate.
Established in 1987, Wild Oats Markets, Inc. is the nation’s quality leader in the natural foods supermarket category. Wild Oats Community Markets feature locally grown and organic produce, hormone- and additive-free meats, chemical- and preservative-free grocery items, cruelty-free bodycare and environmentally conscious household products. The Company currently operates more than 110 stores across North America under the names Wild Oats Community Markets, Alfalfa’s, Henry’s Marketplace, Nature‘s Northwest, Sun Harvest, Capers, Oasis Fine Foods, Sunshine Grocery, Ideal Market, Uptown Whole Foods, Beans, Grains and Things and Vitamin Expo.
For background information on this and other important topics, please visit www.wildoats.com.