Most of the nation's big grocers improved to passing grades in Greenpeace's annual ranking of sustainable seafood practices, but Publix and Winn-Dixie flunked for the fifth straight year.
"We've made a lot of progress, but have a long way to go," said Casson Trenor, seafood campaign manager for the save-the-oceans group. "What's changed is we reached widespread acknowledgement of the problems and need for solutions."
Ratings are based on educational labeling, acceptable harvesting techniques for wild caught products and healthy practices for farm-raised seafood. They are also graded on how many of 22 "red list" species overfished to the threshold of extinction are stocked by each chain.
Since the campaign began, many chains stopped carrying monkfish, orange roughy and Chilean sea bass. But even most chains awarded passing grades sell 15 of the 22 red list species including grouper and snapper.
Publix (17th) and Winn-Dixie (19th) lost points for again declining requests for information. Both were rated on store visits.
Winn-Dixie could not be reached for a response. Publix was slammed for revealing a year ago that it began a sustainable seafood evaluation, then said little since about when anything might change in stores.
"We do not believe change can happen by avoiding products," said Shannon Patten, Publix spokeswoman. "All harvested seafood is sold to someone. Change is truly driven by supporting the (seafood) industry as they work through the issues."
Publix said it has completed initial research on what it sells with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and is now evaluating solutions for each species and supplier before deciding to drop a product.
Mark Albright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8252.