Whole Foods Market Partnership

King Penguins

The Safina Center and Whole Foods Market Partnership
Promotes Sustainable Seafood from Boat to Counter Top

In 2010, The Safina Center began a partnership with Whole Foods Market (WFM), a leading seafood retailer with stores throughout Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. The partnership works like this: Whole Foods Market uses the more than 160 wild-caught seafood ratings prepared by The Safina Center and also by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, to source responsibly caught seafood and to educate consumers at the Market’s seafood counters.

The Safina Center’s seafood rating system is a rigorous three-part process. Each rating takes months of research to condense dozens of scientific and government reports. Each rating investigates all aspects of the fishing process, from species abundance and fishery management to the catch method. Additionally, each report is peer reviewed to ensure each rating is accurate and up-to-date.

The team of fishery scientists who complete the research is led by Elizabeth Brown, The Safina Center’s research scientist. According to Elizabeth, “The Safina Center’s seafood ratings and reports help us all make decisions that protect fish populations and promote healthier oceans.”

Whole Foods Market sells wild-caught seafood rated “green” or “yellow” by The Safina Center and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, as well as seafood certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. They do not sell any “red” rated seafood. Whole Foods Market seafood receives close scrutiny from the boat all the way to the seafood case. Whole Foods has built relationships with fishermen who are committed to health, the environment and the integrity of our oceans, and sources seafood domestically and locally whenever possible. Whole Foods Market also eschews standard industry practices, including using artificial preservatives to boost water weight and extend shelf life, or carbon monoxide to enhance color.

Its partnerships with fishermen and farmers are reaping big rewards. “Whole Foods staff has worked closely with their seafood producers to move some of them closer to sustainable methods,” says Carl Safina. “Those who’ve improved enough to make the cut get to stay in the fold. That’s progress. If you want to make change, ‘Show me how’ can be a stronger, more effective approach than ‘Just say no.’ Kudos to Whole Foods Market for showing how it’s done.”


The Safina Center’s Online Healthy Oceans Seafood Guide

Wild-Caught Seafood Sustainability Ratings – Whole Foods Market

(cover photo: King Penguins, Falkland Islands. © Carl Safina)