AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market here has announced a partnership with the Blue Ocean Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium to launch the first in-store, color-coded sustainability rating system for wild caught seafood.
“This new initiative builds upon the partnership that Whole Foods Market has had with the Marine Stewardship Council since 1999 and it complements Whole Foods Market's existing farmed seafood standards, which remain the highest in the industry,” Carrie Brownstein, Whole Foods' seafood quality standards coordinator announced last week on the company's blog.
Green-coded products will represent “best-choice” ratings — species that are relatively abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways. Yellow coding represents “good alternative” products, where there may be some concerns about the species' status or catch methods, and red coding represents species that are suffering from overfishing, or fishing methods that harm other marine life or habitats.
Brownstein added that the ratings are not set in stone. Fisheries that are currently ranked yellow, for example, could improve their ranking by finding ways to reduce bycatch or their impact on habitats. Whole foods is currently evaluating the red-rated fisheries it works with to see if those types of changes could be made to ultimately earn a higher rating. The company has already stopped selling species such as non-MSC-certified Chilean sea bass and bluefin tuna.