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Ocean Advocates Call upon Supermarkets to Help Restore Balance to Alaska’s Bering Sea

Today, Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Institute and Mission Blue (Sylvia Earle Alliance) launched an ad campaign in Seattle targeting the seafood industry and urging protection of Alaska’s Bering Sea canyons. The campaign, which includes billboards and posters throughout the city, as well as online ads, calls upon Costco, Target and Albertsons – a group representing major US retailers that sell Bering Sea seafood – to help restore balance to this critical ocean ecosystem. The organizations are asking companies to sign onto a 2020 Vision to protect 20 percent of US ocean waters by 2020, starting with the Bering Sea canyons, known as “the Grand Canyons of the Sea.”

“For far too long, industrial fisheries have depleted marine populations and destroyed sensitive ocean habitat, while major retailers have bought and sold that destruction without any accountability,” said Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner Jackie Dragon. “The billboards and posters throughout Seattle urge the companies that sell Bering Sea seafood to share the responsibility for protecting a reasonable portion of the ocean to sustain marine life and humankind into the future. We’re calling on Costco, Target and Albertsons to step up as leaders by rejecting seafood that is harvested from the world’s largest underwater canyons in the Bering Sea.”

The ads, produced by Kevin Phillips, Steve Street, Liz McLellan and David McLeod, depict ocean scenes literally thrown out of balance with the words “Bring Balance to the Bering Sea” in bold lettering and tumbling across the page. The message of balance is a critical component of the organizations’ efforts to protect the Bering Sea canyons, which make up a small percentage of the ecologically sensitive Green Belt zone in the Eastern Bering Sea.

In the 2020 Vision released today, the groups call for the canyons to be set aside as protected ocean habitat, which would also allow for fishing with healthier marine life beyond the conservation boundaries. The designation of the canyons as a marine protected area would be an initial step toward the protection of 20 percent of US waters by 2020, a number that is currently roughly 10 percent.

“Today, armed with modern technologies, we can easily diminish and eliminate ocean wildlife. Today, our capacity to kill greatly exceeds the capacity of the natural systems to replenish.  Our vision of protecting 20 percent of the ocean by 2020 will move toward stabilizing our connection to nature so that 50 years from now, 500 years from now there will still be a wild system to sustain us,” said renowned oceanographer and Mission Blue founder, Sylvia Earle.  “To make this work, the companies that profit from the harvesting of ocean wildlife must show that they are serious about saving the sea, starting with our Hope Spot in the Bering Sea Deep Canyons, an area that we at Mission Blue and our partners have identified as critical to the long-term health of the ocean.”

The Bering Sea canyons support a vast underwater ecosystem. Pribilof and Zhemchug canyons are both larger than Grand Canyon National Park and home to at least 450 species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks, along with 80% of the US seabird population and 25 species of marine mammals. Despite their significance, the canyons remain unprotected and vulnerable to lasting damage from industrial fishing equipment.

“Protecting critical oceans ecosystems around the world is necessary to safeguard marine life from extinction.  These Seattle billboards are helping to launch a much larger conversation around the role that companies selling seafood need to play in this important initiative,” said Marine Conservation Institute President Lance Morgan. “Collectively, we will continue to reach out to the seafood industry and retailers across the country to urge them to commit to the 2020 Vision for the oceans and stop selling seafood that may contribute to the destruction of our seas. In addition to protecting fragile habitats, a healthier ocean means better business for them as well.”

The ads will be on display throughout Seattle for four weeks. Additional ads targeting supermarkets are planned for locations across the country in the coming weeks. For additional information on the campaign and to read the organizations’ 2020 Vision for the ocean, please visit:


Perry Wheeler, Greenpeace Media Officer, P: 301-675-8766 or

Gaby Adam, Marine Conservation Institute Communications Advisor, P: 206-931-5942 or