Blue Ocean Institute


Whole Foods Market Partnership

Blue Ocean Institute and Whole Foods Market Partnership
Promotes Sustainable Seafood from Boat to Counter Top

In 2010, Blue Ocean Institute began a partnership with Whole Foods Market (WFM), a leading seafood retailer with stores throughout Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. The partnership works like this: Whole Foods Market uses the more than 160 seafood rankings prepared by Blue Ocean Institute, with others prepared by Monterey Bay Aquarium, to source responsibly caught seafood and to educate consumers at the Market’s seafood counters.

Blue Ocean’s ranking system is a rigorous three-part process. Each ranking takes months of research to condense dozens of scientific and government reports. Each ranking is based on 60 questions that investigate all aspects of the fishing process, from species abundance and fishery management to pollution run-off. Additionally, each report is peer reviewed to ensure each ranking is accurate and up-to-date.

The team of fishery scientists who complete the research is led by Elizabeth Brown, Blue Ocean’s research scientist. According to Elizabeth, “Blue Ocean’s findings result in seafood rankings and reports that help us all make decisions that protect fish populations and promote healthier oceans.”

Whole Foods Market translates the seafood rankings into a ratings system that helps customers make responsible selections. WFM seafood receives close scrutiny from the boat all the way to the seafood case. Whole Foods has built relationships with fishermen who are committed to health, the environment and the integrity of our oceans, and sources seafood domestically and locally whenever possible. Whole Foods Market also eschews standard industry practices, including using artificial preservatives to boost water weight and extend shelf life, or carbon monoxide to enhance color.

Its partnerships with fishermen and farmers are reaping big rewards. “Whole Foods staff has worked closely with their seafood producers to move some of them closer to sustainable methods,” says Carl Safina. “Those who’ve improved enough to make the cut get to stay in the fold. That’s progress. If you want to make change, ‘Show me how’ can be a stronger, more effective approach than ‘Just say no.’ Kudos to Whole Foods Market for showing how it’s done.”


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