Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center have joined with Whole Foods Market in a bid to create consistency for shoppers, more capacity for research and market opportunities.
Brought together through four years of partnership with Whole Foods, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and The Safina Center (formerly Blue Ocean Institute) will now use Monterey Bay Aquarium’s criteria and methodology for rating the sustainability of wild-caught seafood, offering consumers consistent recommendations from conservation organizations.
Sharing research responsibilities and utilizing the same criteria and methodology also means that Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center have the capacity to evaluate a larger number of species and fisheries. The more species that are rated, the more seafood choices retailers like Whole Foods can offer, the retailer hopes.
“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.
“Streamlining our research with the Monterey Bay Aquarium helps us know the sustainability status of more species of fish. Whole Foods Market turns that knowledge into buying power and market influence,” said Carl Safina, founding president of The Safina Center.
“There’s a real impact on the water when retailers like Whole Foods Market source responsibly caught seafood, creating an economic reward for fisheries to improve their ratings.”
Whole Foods’s policy is to source as much seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as possible. When MSC-certified options are not available, customers use the sustainability ratings from MBA and The Safina Center to choose green- and yellow-rated options.