Whole Foods Market Adds Color-Coded Sustainability Rating Program to Seafood Department

This morning comes a press release from Whole Foods announcing their partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute and the creation of a “science-based wild-caught seafood rating program.” I’ve posted the full release below the jump and embedded a video explaining details of the ratings system: Green (best choice), Yellow (good alternative), and Red (avoid). The long-term plan calls for: “All swordfish and tuna from red-rated fisheries will be eliminated from seafood counters by Earth Day 2011. By Earth Day 2012, all other seafood from red-rated fisheries will be discontinued with the exception of Atlantic cod and sole, which will be sold through Earth Day 2013.”

I’ve read the material and watched the video and I have a couple of questions. Who is going to stand in front of a seafood case and point to the red dot over tuna steaks priced at $23.99 and say, “Hey, I’d like five pounds of that over-fished tuna whose presence in this case caused the death of 100 sea turtles, please?” Why wait until Earth Day 2013? Just asking. Read, watch, and decide for yourself.

Jump for official press release.

Whole Foods Market® Empowers Shoppers to Make Sustainable Seafood Choices with Color-Coded Rating System Partners with Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute to Create Science-Based Wild-Caught Seafood Rating Program; Plans to Phase Out Red-Rated Species

AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 13, 2010) /PRNewswire/ — Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFMI) today launches the first in-store color-coded sustainability-rating program for wild-caught seafood and commits to phasing out all red-rated species by Earth Day 2013. Through partnerships with Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, Whole Foods Market is the first national grocer to provide a comprehensive sustainability rating system for wild-caught seafood.
Blue Ocean and Monterey Bay Aquarium are highly respected for the strength of their science-based seafood programs. Both organizations evaluate species and the fishing fleets that catch them, based on life history, abundance, habitat impacts, fishery management practices and bycatch.

Green or “best choice” ratings indicate that a species is relatively abundant and caught in environmentally-friendly ways;

Yellow or “good alternative” means some concerns exist with the species’ status or catch methods;

Red or “avoid” means that for now, the species is suffering from overfishing, or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats.
The color-coded ratings offer shoppers transparent information about the sustainability status of wild-caught seafood. Anyone can go online and review complete species and fishery evaluations.
The new program expands upon the partnership that Whole Foods Market has had with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since 1999, and the new ratings apply only to non-MSC-certified fish. The MSC is the world’s leading certification body for sustainable wild-caught seafood, and its blue ecolabel identifies wild-caught seafood products that are MSC-certified.

The company’s new wild-caught seafood rating program and partnerships will complement its existing farmed seafood standards, which remain the highest in the industry. Farmed seafood at Whole Foods Market carries the “Responsibly Farmed” logo to indicate that it meets these high standards.

FACTS:
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that 80 percent of global fisheries are fully exploited, overfished, or depleted.¹ Whole Foods Market’s goal is to work with the passion of its customers, the commitment of its skilled seafood buyers, and the dedication of its many seafood suppliers to help reverse this trend.

Whole Foods Market began working with MSC in 1999 and continues to partner with the world’s leading certification for sustainable seafood, which uses a multi-stakeholder, international market-based approach to provide incentives for fisheries to address key issues such as overfishing and bycatch. A blue ecolabel identifies MSC-certified seafood.

Whole Foods Market maintains the highest farmed seafood standards in the industry and requires third-party audits and traceability from hatchery to market. They prohibit use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, added preservatives like sulfites and phosphates, genetically modified seafood, and land animal by-products in feed.

Whole Foods Market previously stopped selling especially vulnerable red-rated species such as non-MSC-certified Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, bluefin tuna, sharks, and marlins (with the exception of Hawaii-caught blue marlin, sold in Hawaii stores).

All swordfish and tuna from red-rated fisheries will be eliminated from seafood counters by Earth Day 2011. By Earth Day 2012, all other seafood from red-rated fisheries will be discontinued with the exception of Atlantic cod and sole, which will be sold through Earth Day 2013.

Comments