As Of Earth Day 2012, organic and natural foods superstore Whole Foods has made a corporate decision that they will no longer carry fish that is considered unsustainable. Whole Foods explained through a blog post its decision to eliminate “red-rated” seafood, species that have been depleted due to overfishing or that fishing methods destroy other sea life.
Before the announcement made yesterday, Whole Foods had already made the decision to stop selling orange roughy, shark, bluefin tuna and most marlin.
The question being asked by critics right now if the policies instituted by Whole Foods will make a difference. This week the Washington Post ran a story highlighting the questionable nature of the Marine Stewardship Council, the most widely used certification system for sustainable fishing.
The Washington Post article pointed out that:
A studypublished online last week in the journal Marine Policy showed that, for fish stocks where there was sufficient information, 31 percent of MSC-certified stocks were overfished and subject to continuing overfishing.”Certifiers must sharpen their criteria and close any loopholes,” said Rainer Froese, a senior scientist at the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research and lead author of the study, who said consumers should still buy certified seafood. “Given that there are thousands of [fish] stocks, there needs to be some guidance on which ones you can eat and have a good conscience.”
It is also worth pointing out that Whole Foods is not the first major chain to target unsustainable fishing. Target already eliminated farmed salmon and put policies in place to do away with all unsustainable fish by 2015. Wegman’s stopped selling fish that were taken from seas that environmentalists have the targeted as unsustainable. This summer, the world’s biggest retailer, will require all fish that they sell to be sustainable.
The decision to ban these fish isn’t without its downside. Dozens of fisheries that have done business with these stores, especially those along the northeast, will find themselves without customers. The northeast waters are the most heavily fished in the world.
Russell Sherman has sold his entire catch to Whole Foods the last six years has to find new buyers.
“We’ve been murdered. It’s not fair at all.”
Jim Ford, has sold more than 700,000 pounds of fish to Whole Foods a year has plans to sell his catch to Legal Seafood Restaurants.
“It’s a marketing ploy, that’s all.”