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Beginning this Earth Day, April 22, Whole Foods Market will no longer carry red-rated, wild-caught fish in its seafood departments, a move which comes one year ahead of the company’s self-imposed deadline of Earth Day 2013, and which makes Whole Foods the first national grocer to stop selling red-rated seafood.
“Through collaborations with the Marine Stewardship Council, Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, we offer our shoppers knowledge to make conscious seafood choices for themselves, their families and our oceans,” said David Pilat, Whole Foods’ global seafood buyer.
A red rating indicates that a species is suffering from overfishing or that current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats; the ratings are determined by nonprofit research organizations Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s green or “Best Choice” ratings mean species are abundant and are caught in environmentally friendly ways; yellow or “Good Alternative” ratings indicate some concerns with the species’ status or catch methods.
Any wild-caught seafood at Whole Foods that does not carry the color-coded rankings of Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium comes from fisheries deemed sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which remains the company’s primary indicator for seafood sustainability.
As of April 22, Atlantic halibut, grey sole, skate, and other selected species will no longer be offered. Whole Foods’ fishmongers will help recommend alternatives, such as MSC-certified Pacific halibut and yellow-rated Dover sole and Atlantic flounder.
To highlight the company’s knowledgeable and skilled fishmongers, Whole Foods will host its first-ever “Fishmonger Face-Off,” in which North American team members will compete for the title of the company’s best fishmonger. On June 16, 11 top fishmongers will travel to the Aspen Food & Wine Classic, where they will compete.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods operates 315 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.