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Whole Foods Market® And Leading Scientific Organizations Simplify Seafood Sustainability Ratings, Increase Opportunities For Research

Brought together through four years of partnership with Whole Foods Market, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program and The Safina Center (formerly Blue Ocean Institute) will now use Monterey Bay Aquarium’s science-based criteria and methodology for rating the sustainability of wild-caught seafood, offering consumers consistent recommendations from trustworthy nonprofit conservation organizations.

Sharing research responsibilities and utilizing the same criteria and methodology also means that Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) and The Safina Center (TSC) have a greater capacity to evaluate a larger number of species and fisheries. The more species that are rated, the more seafood choices retailers like Whole Foods Market can offer.

Increasing the availability of “Best Choice” (green) or “Good Alternative” (yellow) options in the seafood case has a positive effect on our oceans and fishing communities. Fishermen from fisheries that earn these ratings through responsible practices have an avenue into the sustainable seafood marketplace. In this way, the ratings program provides an economic incentive to fish responsibly and helps shift the seafood industry toward greater sustainability.

“Whole Foods Market has excelled as a leader in seafood sustainability because partners like MBA and TSC provide us with the latest science on the most abundant species and the best managed fisheries,” said David Pilat, global seafood buyer for Whole Foods Market. “They share our commitment to the highest standards and continual improvement, so this collaboration will streamline all our efforts to keep driving change in the industry.”

The methodology, developed by MBA with input from TSC and other stakeholders, evaluates the same main criteria as Safina Center’s previous ratings, including the abundance of fish populations, the impacts of fishing, and how well the process of fishing is controlled and managed. Other critical factors evaluated include whether the fishing method targets only the intended species, or if any other species are caught in the process (known as bycatch), as well as the impact of fishing gear on the habitat. Assessments are robust, peer-reviewed and transparent.

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