Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

No More Red-Rated Wild Seafood in Our Stores

By Allison Burch, April 22, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Allison Burch

Today’s a big day for us.

Not just because it's Earth Day but because as of today, in support of healthier oceans and to help reverse overfishing trends, Whole Foods Market® will no longer carry red-rated wild seafood. From now on, all of the wild-caught seafood we carry will be from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), or green (best choice) or yellow (good alternative) species rated by Blue Ocean Institute (BOI) and Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA).

A number of years ago we stopped selling several extremely depleted stocks, such as orange roughy and bluefin tuna; now we’ll no longer offer species rated red by BOI and MBA. Species such as Atlantic halibut, grey sole, skate wing, sturgeon and turbot, among others.

Watch this video to understand why this is an important (ahem) sea change.

If one of your favorite seafood species is red-rated, fear not. There are other fish in the sea!

Here are tips and recipes for a seafood swap out. Ready to go green (rated that is)? We’ve got lots of fabulous recipes for you to try; plus, a little seafood shopping incentive.

Still a little murky? Our seafood page is your compass to navigating seafood sustainability in our stores and our talented fishmongers are your capable captains, happy to answer any of your questions.

Happy Earth Day!

Category: Seafood




Beth Jonquil says ...
Thank you SOoooo much for standing up for the fish of the oceans and rivers! Thank you for attempting consciousness! Thank you!
04/22/2012 4:48:48 PM CDT
M.Lewis says ...
Thanks. Your efforts are very admirable. But may we look at the other side? What about contaminated fish - all kinds, those with nuclear residue, those containing mercury & the numerous other threats to human health? As a group in the forefront of a number of issues, can you provide us with information about what Whole Foods is doing to limit our exposure to fish with toxic ingredients. Thank you.
04/22/2012 7:20:12 PM CDT
Sean McLaughlin says ...
Thank you for this public service. The sustainability of ocean harvests has long been a serious problem. It is remarkable to see this activism coming from the private sector. I will feel much better about buying my fish and seafood from Whole Foods knowing careful thought has gone into the future of marine harvests. Sean McLaughlin Brooklyn, NY
04/22/2012 10:13:06 PM CDT
GC says ...
Good job! Glad you will not sell fish that are not sustainable and whose catch harms the ocean! It is not worth it to eat that kind of food. There are plenty of other choices. Nice work!
04/23/2012 3:12:49 AM CDT
Ratunda Norman says ...
Thank you for leading the way!!! This is the reason that my family consumes about 95 percent of our seafood or meat from wholefoods.
04/23/2012 6:35:35 AM CDT
heidi says ...
I just purchased (today) chilean sea bass from my local WF. I looked on the Monteray Bay watch list, and this fish comes up on the red avoid list. Also, it say UK on it, which I read it is illegal to call it that under Fish Labeling regulations.
04/23/2012 2:22:51 PM CDT
brownsteinc says ...
@heidi While Chilean Sea Bass sold by most other markets is ranked red by Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute (our partnering organization), we only sell Chilean Sea Bass from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified fisheries. Both of our partnering organizations, include a statement on their websites and in their seafood guides that the MSC-certified Chilean Sea Bass fisheries are an exception to their red-ranking for that fish.
04/23/2012 2:23:54 PM CDT
Tim Hoskins says ...
You Whole food shoppers have already been paying extremely high prices for fish,and this move will make the price exponentialy higher,with the regulations that Wholefoods has placed on fisherman.All this so can make it look like that they really care,when it will in fact increase their bottom line,while possibly costing jobs in the seafood industry.
04/23/2012 6:03:22 PM CDT
Sam says ...
Good policy, but why will you continue "red rated" farmed fish? Atlantic farmed salmon is listed as "red = avoid" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, who I understand you collaborated with on this project.
04/24/2012 12:45:15 PM CDT
brownsteinc says ...
@Sam We have already developed industry-leading standards for aquaculture (fish farming) with strict requirements for each farm (including farms raising Atlantic salmon) that supplies Whole Foods Market. MBA has evaluated general practices in fish farming, but does not evaluate individual farms and thus cannot fulfill our unique needs for ranking farmed seafood. If a species in our stores has been farm-raised, that means it meets our very strict farmed seafood standards and carries the “Responsibly Farmed” logo to show that the product has been third-party verified to ensure that the standards are being met. Whole Foods Market’s Quality Standards for farmed seafood are extensive. For example, we require traceability from farm to market and prohibit the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, added preservatives like sulfites, and land animal by-products in feed. Our complete standards for farmed seafood can be viewed online at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/values/seafood.php.
04/24/2012 12:46:46 PM CDT
Ximena pastor says ...
I am Costarican and I thank Whole Foods for making the tough decisions to save and preserve the environment and life. We here suffer illegal fishing by "super" Asian companies, shark finning to supply others in the other side of the world and incursions in national parks for the same purpose. We are sick and tired of this and the only way to eliminate this terrible and frankly inhumane behavior is for big companies, with interest in preservation to take action and refuse to buy from fisheries without strict environmental policies. I also recommend to all to watch the Channel 4 documentary with famous chef Gordon Ramsay on shark finning in Costa Rica. Cheers!
04/24/2012 1:11:17 PM CDT
Schellfish says ...
Will buy my fish elsewhere. I support the fishermen and fisherwomen and their families
04/24/2012 2:13:54 PM CDT
Rachelle says ...
Thank you Wholefoods for standing up for our environment! My dad works for your company and I think Whole foods is such an incredible store! Wish you had one near us!!!
04/24/2012 2:18:30 PM CDT
R Deckard says ...
Some of the fish listed are, indeed, over-fished and for that I commend you. But several species are not stressed and, as long as there are people willing to pay the price, should not be banned; American Red Snapper, Vermillion Snapper for example. As for the mere fact that you EVER sold marlin, or any billfish of any kind, just boggles the mind! Do you realize the value of a sport caught marlin versus commercially caught?!? The thousands of dollars generated by the sport fishing industry per fish, not to mention the thousands of jobs to support the sport. Here are some of those that benefit directly and indirectly; the travel industry, hospitality, the marina, boat owner/captain/crew, taxidermists, tackle manufacturers, bait shops
04/24/2012 2:20:31 PM CDT
Rachelle says ...
Schellfish - I support fishermen and their families, however, when it is so huge and so commercial to the point of destroying a whole species what is the point? Once the fish are gone, there is no fishing to be done.. We have to conserve when we need to.
04/24/2012 2:20:51 PM CDT
Lars says ...
So, No more endangered fish. How about all tose poor Cows, pigs, sheep, buffalo, gonna keep serving up their meat? What a bunch of hypocrites.
04/24/2012 3:19:22 PM CDT
Dick Sancez says ...
All very tasty fish available at fish markets and other stores. Whole Foods is off my list of places to shop!
04/24/2012 4:39:09 PM CDT
Kelly AZ says ...
Half the selection at twice the price!
04/24/2012 6:34:59 PM CDT
Allan says ...
1/2 the fish on your list is rated "green" by the Blue Ocean Institute. http://www.blueocean.org/seafood/seafood-search-result?dropdownlist=%25%25all%25%25&keyword=Type+in+your+search where did you get your information from? What is the real reason to not sell fish? Must be economic behind the scene.
04/25/2012 9:03:09 AM CDT
brownsteinc says ...
@Allan Our partnering organizations, Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium do the research and the rankings that you find in our stores. Therefore, our information comes directly from those organizations. The reason we have implemented this program is because we are a values-driven company and it is part of our core values to take care of our environment. We are no longer sourcing from red-rated fisheries, but have found fisheries that are green or yellow-rated to replace the ones that we no longer source from. So, we are still selling fish. We believe that can be good business to both sell fish and take care of our oceans.
04/25/2012 9:04:32 AM CDT
Interesting says ...
What about other animals? It seems promoting 'green' is all about what is 'in' at the moment.
04/25/2012 9:18:15 AM CDT
Deb says ...
The fish at your store is way too expensive anyway. So now when I want healthier lobster, I can't get it there?! So off to the cheap markets we'll go. Also, will you be taking Kashi cereal off your shelves? They have been using GMO soy and such in their products! ICK!
04/25/2012 10:42:57 AM CDT
Jennifer Peabody says ...
Thank you, thank you, thank you! No red listed fish. Now I don't have to be so crazy with my Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood list when I shop at your stores. And when other customers ask for red listed seafoods they will be educated about this important issue. I am thrilled with this latest decision!!! I would love for you to look more closely at another issue. I sure wish instead of labeling conventional produce "conventional produce" (What does that mean anyway?), take the bold step to label it "chemically treated". That way people might think long and hard before they purchased such products, helping to promote sustainable produce...just a thought!
04/25/2012 12:16:31 PM CDT
Wembley Fraggle says ...
To me, "sustainable" means something that everyone could do for an indefinite period of time without causing a collapse of one kind or another. Since "everyone" means 7 billion people, eating fish at all is not sustainable. If we each take just one fish, there went 7 billion fish. NOT sustainable, period. Ocean fish stocks are in total collapse from overfishing and a lack of international protective treaties. Fish farms are even worse - destroying the wild habitat, consuming massive amounts of feed and producing massive amounts of pollution. Fish are intelligent wild animals who feel pain, can suffer, and belong to social groups. Fish are also a critical part of the ecosystem's balance with millions of years of marine evolution balancing them between their predators and their food sources. When you take a fish from the ocean, you take it from another species who depends on it. Choose compassion, choose sustainability - don't eat wild fish or farmed fish. If you feel you must have fish, grow your own in an aquaculture and recycle the waste water (in symbiosis with your garden). DHA/Omega-3 amino acids are often used as an excuse to kill fish; however these nutrients are available from algae sources (where the fish got them). One grocery chain sparing only a few of the most threatened species does nothing to help them recover. This just shifts the threat onto the next species of fish. This is just pure CYA brand management. Whole Foods doesn't care about fish - they just don't want to be "on the hook" when these fish are declared commercially extinct (in like 2015). I do respect that Whole Foods is stopping the very worst of its profiteering from the killing of endangered species - but in order to truly own up to the damage you've done - you need to get out there and restore fish stocks! Not just stop killing ;)
04/25/2012 12:44:26 PM CDT
Brendan McVetty says ...
I'm Back! to shopping your fish department that is. The choice to shun drag netted fish is so commendable I will be glad to pay for the privilage. Please keep up the progress toward a sustainable and responsible market! Thanks, Brendan
04/25/2012 7:44:58 PM CDT