Whole Foods Seafood get’s all Socially Responsible and stuff, but is it for real?

Whole Foods announced today on it’s blog that it will now be labeling it’s seafood based on the sustainability of harvesting techniques. While in principle, I think that sounds like a good idea, I’m not sure it really helps all that much. Getting people to think more about where the seafood they eat comes from is HUGELY important if we want to save the vast majority of piscatorial life forms and preserve our rivers lakes and oceans, but there seems to be some MAJOR holes in the policy, mainly in the salmon department Here’s what they are doing.

Back in 1999 Whole Foods Market was the first US retailer to offer Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified seafood, and each year we continue to offer our customers more and more MSC-certified seafood options. Wild-caught seafood from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council is the top choice for sustainability, and we offer the widest selection available, from Alaska salmon and Pacific halibut to Nova Scotia harpoon-caught swordfish and Pacific cod. We’ve also got plenty of MSC-certified frozen fillets, seafood appetizers and more that are easy on the wallet and simple to prepare.

Since 2010, we’ve worked with the nonprofit research organizations Blue Ocean Institute (BOI) and Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) to display their color-coded sustainability ratings to help our customers make informed choices when selecting wild-caught seafood. (Your local store has chosen to display ratings by either BOI or MBA. Please note that the ratings have slight differences.)

  • Green / best choice: species are abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways
  • Yellow / good alternative: species with some concerns about their status or catch methods
  • Red / avoid: species suffer from overfishing or the current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats
Here is the list of Red species:
  • Atlantic Halibut
  • Grey Sole (Atlantic)
  • Octopus (all)
  • Skate Wing
  • Sturgeon
  • Swordfish (from specific areas and catch methods rated “red” by our partners)
  • Tautog
  • Trawl-caught Atlantic Cod
  • Tuna (from from specific areas and catch methods rated “red” by our partners)
  • Turbot
  • Imported wild shrimp
  • Rockfish (only certain species)

The real problem is that it makes people feel that all the Green labeled species are ok to eat. And what we know from the fly fishing perspective is that a Salmon (and Steelhead) caught in the wild is a salmon that won’t return to spawn. That is a problem. Most of this, I’ll admidt, I got from the Patagonia Salmon Jerky propaganda machine, which makes the assertion that there is a bunch of “indiscriminate harvest and unsustainable fish-farming techniques” happening all over the world, and generally I agree with that statement and position.

The sad part is that Whole Foods seems not care about salmon farming, or indiscriminate wild gill netting of salmon for comercial food supply. THAT SUCKS.

The fact is I just don’t eat much fish any more. Mainly because I live in Ohio and there just isn’t that much good fish to be had.

But I will say, that the walleye fishery in Lake Erie does make for some KILLER all you can eat Walleye feasts on a Friday night at Buffalo Jack’s. And yes that’s a sustainable fishery, and one I have no problem utilizing. Walleye are tasty, and there’s plenty of them in that big shallow lake of ours.