Seafood Standards Like Nowhere Else

From sustainable wild-caught to Responsibly Farmed, we have the strictest seafood standards on land. Find out how we do seafood better than any other retailer.

If you want to know where your seafood comes from, you’ve come to the right place. From sustainable wild-caught salmon to Responsibly Farmed shrimp, we do seafood better — and we mean it. Our rigorous standards help maintain healthy fish populations, protect ecosystems and build a more sustainable seafood supply for everyone.

What Makes Our Seafood Different

All the seafood in our Seafood department is Responsibly Farmed or sustainable wild-caught (that includes frozen and breaded options, appetizers, smoked seafood and seafood dips). If it doesn’t meet our standards, we won’t sell it. No exceptions. We don’t sell cloned or genetically modified seafood, and we prohibit 260+ food ingredients, including certain preservatives, like sodium bisulfite and STPP when used to treat seafood. We also don’t allow carbon monoxide and filtered wood smoke for color retention.

Our seafood is traceable to farm or fishery, and we work hard to source it only from responsibly managed farms and abundant, well-managed wild fisheries. Year after year, we’re recognized by Greenpeace for our rigorous seafood sustainability practices.

Sustainable Wild-Caught Seafood

All of the wild-caught seafood we sell is from fisheries certified to meet the Marine Stewardship Council Standard for sustainable fishing or rated either “Green” or “Yellow” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

See our Wild-Caught Seafood Standards Overview.

By choosing sustainable wild-caught seafood, you’re supporting the people and fishing practices that help keep fish plentiful for the future.
Look for the wild-caught seafood sustainability logos in our Seafood department.

Marine Stewardship Council

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the world’s leading certification program for sustainable wild-caught seafood. Fisheries are evaluated by an independent third party against the MSC Fisheries Standard for healthy fish populations and ecosystem. In 1999, we became the first U.S. retailer to collaborate with them. Our Harpoon-Caught Swordfish is sourced from the first swordfish fishery to be certified by MSC.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program

In 2010, we began collaborating with nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium to provide color-coded sustainability ratings for wild-caught seafood we offer that is not certified by Marine Stewardship Council.

In addition, we don’t sell seafood from certain areas based on environmental and other concerns.

In 2006, we discontinued selling live lobsters in all except two locations because of the stresses on the animals related to almost all steps in the chain from harvest to cooking. See our complete lobster standards.

Farm-Raised Seafood

With a dwindling supply of wild seafood in our oceans, farm-raised seafood is playing a more important role than ever. When it’s done right, farmed seafood provides a reliable year-round source of high-quality seafood you can trust. Our standards require traceability to the farm and are based on the best aquaculture science, consultation with top experts and environmental organizations, and visits to farms worldwide.

See our Farm-Raised Seafood Standards Overview.
See our complete standards for Responsibly Farmed finfish and shrimp.
See our complete standards for Responsibly Farmed mollusks.

Responsibly Farmed Salmon

Our standards don’t allow genetically modified or cloned salmon. They must be raised in carefully monitored, low-density pens and tanks without antibiotics, synthetic pesticides or added growth hormones. Detailed protocols prevent escape of the salmon into the wild, and harmful and lethal methods are never used on predator birds and marine mammals. Also, pigments used for colorant are from non-synthetic sources.

Responsibly Farmed Arctic Char

This cousin to salmon has a gorgeous reddish pink color and a very likable, full but not fishy flavor. Located among the black volcanic boulders of Iceland’s southwest coastline, our farmer partners raise Arctic char in land-based tanks using the clear, clean cold water that Iceland is known for. This system offers excellent control over water quality, prevents escape of fish into the wild and helps protect the char from predators. Learn more about our Responsibly Farmed Icelandic Arctic Char.

Responsibly Farmed Tilapia

Our tilapia is raised to our strict standards which prohibit antibiotics and the industry-standard use of hormones for sex reversal. In addition, our tilapia feed contains fish processing trimmings instead of wild fish caught just for feed.

Responsibly Farmed Shrimp

Our standards prohibit conversion of sensitive ecosystems such as mangrove forests into shrimp farms, and we track the shrimp from pond to store to ensure the standards are met. Shortly after harvest, they’re flash frozen to maintain that “good shrimp” flavor and texture. And, unlike what you’ll often find at other markets, we don’t treat our shrimp with preservatives like sodium bisulfite and STPP.

Farm-Raised Rainbow Trout

Our trout are raised in systems that mimic a rushing stream with no antibiotics and no land-animal products in the feed.

Responsibly Farmed Mollusks

In addition to prohibiting synthetic pesticide use and requiring water quality monitoring and protection of the coastal environment, our standards for farmed oysters, clams, mussels and scallops require evaluating the health of sediments on the seafloor to help protect bottom-dwelling animals and the ecosystem beneath the farms. This helps prevent sulfides, which are toxic to animals that live in the sediments — so we make sure our Responsibly Farmed mollusks are friendly to their downstairs neighbors.

Canned Seafood You Can Count On

Whole Foods Market was the first national retailer to set rigorous sustainability requirements for canned tuna and we have since expanded our seafood standards to include other canned seafood.

All canned seafood in our Grocery department must meet our Seafood department Quality Standards for wild-caught seafood or farm-raised seafood.

In addition, all canned tuna on our grocery shelves and in our own kitchens must be sourced from fisheries using one-by-one catch methods, which prevent bycatch and create more jobs in coastal communities. (Bycatch is fish and other marine species that are harmed or killed in the process of catching seafood.) Every tuna supplier must also use electronic traceability software that tracks each lot of fish at every point from vessels to can.

See our Canned Tuna Sourcing Policy.

Wild Planet Foods, one of our canned tuna suppliers, sources tuna using a pole and line catch method, which involves catching tuna one by one using a pole, line and hook. Shown here is one of their fishing boats.

Methylmercury in Seafood

Methylmercury is the dominant form of mercury found in aquatic animals, including fish. Our Seafood department offers the highest quality seafood caught and farmed from the best sources around the world — and we go out of our way to keep our customers informed of the latest health and environmental issues. Learn more about methylmercury in seafood.

Behind the Scenes: Our Seafood

Want to learn more about our seafood Quality Standards? Watch these videos for a closer look into the work that goes on to bring the very best to our stores.

Responsibly Farmed Salmon

green cliffside in Norway

Learn about Responsibly Farmed salmon raised in the remote open waters of Iceland, Norway and Scotland.

Harpoon-Caught Swordfish

We source swordfish from a harpoon fleet in Nova Scotia that was the first swordfish fishery to be certified sustainable by Marine Stewardship Council. Learn more about our Harpoon-Caught Swordfish.

Sustainable Canned Tuna

tuna fishing boat at sea

Get a peek into what makes buying our canned tuna a better choice for seafood availability into the future.

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