Starting this Earth Day — Sunday, April 22 — Whole Foods Market stores all over the country will no longer carry red-rated wild-caught fish in their seafood departments. This move, which comes one year ahead of their self-imposed deadline of Earth Day 2013, makes them the first national grocer to stop selling red-rated seafood.
Those already familiar with our seafood ratings know that a red rating indicates that a species is suffering from overfishing or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats. Whole Foods is using our ratings in many stores to share sustainability info with customers at the seafood counter. They’re also working with Monterey Bay Aquarium in some regions.
Starting this Sunday, you’ll only find wild-caught seafood that has a Blue Ocean or Monterey Bay Aquarium green or yellow rating. Our green ratings mean species are abundant and are caught in environmentally friendly ways; yellow ratings indicate some concerns with the species’ status or catch methods. Whole Foods also features MSC-certified wild-caught fish that carry the Marine Stewardship Council’s seal of approval.
As Dr. Alan Duckworth, Blue Ocean’s Research Scientist put it, ““Blue Ocean Institute is very proud to partner with Whole Foods Market to supply seafood rankings so the consumer can make an informed and educated decision when purchasing seafood. This is an amazing accomplishment, as it will help protect fish numbers and habitats, while reducing the accidental catch of seabirds and sea turtles. This positive step from Whole Foods Market will directly result in healthier, more vibrant oceans.”
Whole Foods Market is also helping people understand what green- or yellow-rated fish you can substitute for red-rated ones–helpful info regardless of where you buy seafood! Check out their recent blog with a list of ocean-friendly alternatives. And you can find a full list of ocean-friendly substitutes for red-rated seafood that was developed by Chef Barton Seaver on the Blue Ocean site.
You can also participate in Whole Foods’ live Tweet Chat with Chef Michel Nischan on Thursday April 26th at 7 p.m. EST to learn about what to substitute for red-rated species and how to cook them. See this page for details on how to participate.
This Earth Day if you’re looking for an ocean-friendly choice, be sure to check out a Whole Foods Market store near you.
And even if Whole Foods isn’t where you shop, you can show your love for the ocean by pledging to support ocean-friendly seafood on Facebook.
What are your Earth Day plan for supporting the ocean? Tell us all about it with a comment below.
~ Kate McLaughlin, Seafood Program Director