Whole Foods hooks sustainable seafood

NEW YORK — Whole Foods Market is leading charge to promote the sale of sustainable seafood by becoming the first national grocer to stop selling red-rated seafood. The company announced that, beginning this Earth Day (April 22), it will no longer carry red-rated, wild-caught fish in its seafood departments. 

A red rating indicates that a species is suffering from overfishing or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats; the ratings are determined by nonprofit research organizations Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Fish that fall in this category include Atlantic halibut, grey sole and skate. Whole Foods Market's fishmongers will help recommend alternatives, such as MSC-certified Pacific halibut and yellow-rated Dover sole and Atlantic flounder.

Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium's green or "Best Choice" ratings mean species are abundant and are caught in environmentally-friendly ways; yellow or "Good Alternative" ratings indicate some concerns with the species' status or catch methods.

Whole Foods noted that any wild-caught seafood at Whole Foods Market that does not carry the color-coded rankings of Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium comes from fisheries deemed sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which remains the company's primary indicator for seafood sustainability.

Whole Foods seafood sustainability program began in 2010 when its regions partnered with either Blue Ocean Institute or Monterey Bay Aquarium (SeaChoice in Canada) to display color-coded sustainability ratings at its seafood counters so customers could make informed choices when selecting wild-caught seafood.

"Through collaborations with the Marine Stewardship Council, Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, we offer our shoppers knowledge to make conscious seafood choices for themselves, their families and our oceans," said David Pilat, Whole Foods Market's global seafood buyer