Sustainable Canned Tuna

Tuna Spread with Peppers and Onions

To help protect our oceans, the canned tuna in our stores goes beyond the dolphin-safe label. Our sourcing policy* requires all fisheries supplying canned tuna to use pole-and-line, troll or handline catch methods. That means fishermen catch tuna one fish at a time, which prevents bycatch and creates more fishing jobs. Much of conventional canned tuna is caught by vessels using purse seine nets with Fish Aggregating Devices (known as FADs), that attract tuna but also result in high bycatch of sea turtles, sharks and other marine life. Our policy also requires tracking of canned tuna back to the source, utilizing electronic traceability software. We’re the first national retailer to set such a high standard for canned tuna sourcing.

*We’ve updated the timeline for rolling out our Canned Tuna Sourcing Policy. Products meeting this policy are expected to start appearing in stores and online during summer 2018. The updated timeline reflects the transition time needed to sell through existing inventory, and will allow us to elevate our 365 Everyday Value® canned tuna to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified pole-and-line and troll fisheries.

Whole Foods Market
Canned Tuna Sourcing Policy
Updated October 20, 2017

Scope: This sourcing policy applies to canned tuna products sold to a direct or indirect affiliate of Whole Foods Market, Inc. (collectively “WFM”) purchasing Supplier’s products from Supplier or via a third-party distributor in the United States and Canada. Tuna products sold in bulk format for use in prepared foods departments are included in this policy.

Timeline for Compliance:
January 1, 2018

I. Requirements for Source Fisheries:

  1. All canned tuna must be sourced from pole and line, troll, and handline fisheries. Tuna from longline or purse seine fisheries is prohibited.
  2. The source fishery must be Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified OR be rated green or yellow by collaborating organizations, Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) and The Safina Center (TSC). No canned tuna will be sourced from fisheries that are un-rated or rated red by MBA and TSC.
  3. MSC certification and the MBA/TSC rating systems take into account abundance of the tuna stock, impacts of the fishery on the tuna stock and on other species, effectiveness of management for the fishery, and impacts of fishing on the habitat and ecosystem.
  4. Canned tuna must be dolphin-safe; tuna will not be sourced from fisheries that are known to intentionally encircle dolphins.
  5. Fishing vessels must not engage in shark finning—the practice of capturing a shark, removing its fin for sale, and discarding carcass. Bait or other gear used specifically to attract sharks must not be on-board vessels.
  6. No canned tuna will be sourced from vessels engaged in illegal, unregulated, or unreported catch (IUU). Tuna must not be sourced from vessels listed by the regional fishery management organizations as carrying out or supporting IUU fishing, published at
  7. In countries where vessel registration is required or available as part of a fishery initiative, unique vessel identification numbers must be provided for traceability. If individual vessel registration is not available, Whole Foods Market encourages small-scale fisheries to develop vessel registries as soon as possible to ensure traceability and transparency of tuna catches.
  8. Producers must comply with all laws, codes and regulations, including those related to labor practices, fishing licenses and environmental regulations on catch limits and bycatch.
  9. Canning facilities located outside of Tier 1 countries, as defined by the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons report (TIP), 1 are required to present a social responsibility certificate and audit report performed within the last twelve months by a Whole Foods Market approved audit company certifying to an acceptable social responsibility standard. 2 Social responsibility standards must include the following: Code of Conduct, compliance with national and local laws and regulations, and meet employment and labor practices based on the UN International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions, addressing child labor, forced labor, prison labor, discrimination, working hours, remuneration, disciplinary practices, health and safety. Canning facilities located inside Tier 1 countries are also expected to implement the same labor practices that are verified during social responsibility audits.

II. Traceability:

  1. All Suppliers must upload an accurate supply chain map into their Whole Foods Market account in the Trace Register electronic traceability software program. If any changes occur in the supply chain, Supplier is responsible for: 1) Uploading a new supply chain map in Trace Register; and 2) Receiving Whole Foods Market approval for the changes prior to producing products intended for Whole Foods Market.
  2. Suppliers must utilize the Trace Register electronic traceability software to allow Whole Foods Market to verify sourcing of all canned tuna products and to track products throughout the supply chain. Traceability data are continuously crosschecked using rules set up by Whole Foods Market as well as by internal and independent third-party audits.
  3. Suppliers must enter data into their respective Trace Register accounts for each production lot of tuna. Data attributes required by Whole Foods Market include catch information (common and species name, catch area, fishing method, port and date of landing, vessel names and authorization, flag state) and supporting catch documentation (captain’s statement, NOAA Form 370, etc.), names of any entities to which fish is sold and information on all facilities handling fish (freezing, canning, etc.), and product information.
2Contact Whole Foods Market for list of approved auditors and social responsibility standards.