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Whole Foods Market has become the latest retail member of the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), the London-based nonprofit association committed to supporting small-scale fisheries that pursue quality, responsible and ethical tuna caught using one-by-one methods.
Whole Foods' membership with IPNLF is the latest step in the Austin, Texas-based grocer's efforts to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability. Earlier this year, Whole Foods announced a new sourcing policy for sustainable, traceable canned tuna – becoming the first retailer in the United States to create store-wide requirements spanning grocery products and prepared food items.
Through this commitment, by January 2018, all canned tuna sold in Whole Foods stores will meet rigorous sustainability and traceability requirements that aim to reduce overfishing and by-catch, and support fishing communities. Under the new policy, all of the canned tuna sold at the grocer must come from fisheries using only one-by-one catch methods. These fisheries must also either be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council or rated green or yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center. This includes canned-tuna items in the grocery aisles as well as items in the prepared food department.
Every Whole Foods supplier must also use Trace Register traceability software that tracks the tuna from vessel to can. Traceability data is continuously crosschecked to help verify sourcing and prevent illegally caught fish from entering the supply chain.
“Joining the International Pole & Line Foundation amplifies our collective efforts to be a positive force for change for our oceans and the fishing communities who depend on them,” said Carrie Brownstein, global seafood quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods. “The IPNLF has been a key partner, helping us to develop our new canned-tuna sourcing policy, and supporting Whole Foods Market’s mission to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability.”
Last month, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers became the first North American retail member of the IPNLF, rolling out an exclusive private-brand albacore tuna product to mark that milestone.