Saint Francis is the patron saint of ecology so it makes sense that San Francisco was one of the pioneers to celebrate this annual environmental event. Once a day that the conventional culture thought of as a time for hippies to hug the trees, it has transformed as the culture has continued to turn its collective attention to the damage humans have done to the earth and what can be done to repair it. Earth Day has become so much a part of the landscape that it now ends up being used as a kickoff point for environmental efforts by organizations and businesses of all sizes.
This year, Whole Foods has announced that it will mark Earth Day by beginning its effort to refrain from selling “wild-caught seafood plucked from depleted waters or captured through unsustainable methods.” The Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium label seafood “red-rated” if it comes from overfished waters or if the fishermen use methods that harm other sea life. Anything in that category, such as Atlantic halibut, gray sole, and skate, will not be available at Whole Foods after Earth Day.
Some of the alternatives that will be offered include Pacific halibut, harpoon-caught swordfish, and Atlantic flounder. "Together with our shoppers and vendor partners, we hope to spark a sea change to reverse overfishing and reduce by catch," said David Pilat, the company's global seafood buyer, according to the Chicago Tribune. (Pun intended, we assume.)
As the eco-forward retailer details on its blog,
Back in 1999 Whole Foods Market was the first US retailer to offer Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified seafood, and each year we continue to offer our customers more and more MSC-certified seafood options. Wild-caught seafood from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council is the top choice for sustainability, and we offer the widest selection available, from Alaska salmon and Pacific halibut to Nova Scotia harpoon-caught swordfish and Pacific cod. We’ve also got plenty of MSC-certified frozen fillets, seafood appetizers and more that are easy on the wallet and simple to prepare.
Since 2010, we’ve worked with the nonprofit research organizations Blue Ocean Institute (BOI) and Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) to display their color-coded sustainability ratings to help our customers make informed choices when selecting wild-caught seafood. (Your local store has chosen to display ratings by either BOI or MBA. Please note that the ratings have slight differences.)
- Green / best choice: species are abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways
- Yellow / good alternative: species with some concerns about their status or catch methods
- Red / avoid: species suffer from overfishing or the current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats
As of April 22, all our wild-caught seafood is either certified by the MSC, or is yellow or green-rated. That means we’ll no longer sell the following red-rated species:
- Atlantic Halibut
- Grey Sole (Atlantic)
- Octopus (all)
- Skate Wing
- Swordfish (from specific areas and catch methods rated “red” by our partners)
- Trawl-caught Atlantic Cod
- Tuna (from from specific areas and catch methods rated “red” by our partners)
- Imported wild shrimp
- Rockfish (only certain species)
Also, if you weren’t aware, we haven’t sold orange roughy, shark or blue fin tuna for several years.
By eliminating red-rated seafood, we’re doing our part to reverse trends of overfishing and bycatch, and we believe that together, with our partners and customers, we can spark (pardon the pun) a sea change.