It’s Getting Real at the Whole Foods Fish Counter: No More Red-Label Seafood

For Earth Day, Whole Foods is committing to sustainable seafood practices

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Red label seafood is seen as unsustainable and will no longer be sold at Whole Foods.
Whole Foods no longer sells red label fish as a commitment to sustainability. (Photo by: Linda Cronin)

Updated Jul 11, 2017 @ 10:57 am

In celebration of Earth Day, Whole Foods Market made a big change at the fish counter: The stores no longer sell seafood with red warning labels, as part of their commitment to ocean-friendly seafood.

Whole Foods initially partnered with the Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium to create a color coded system with green, yellow and red labels to help buyers become aware of the sustainability of their prospective dinner. The red-rated seafood denoted unsustainable fishing practices or overfishing of a species.

This week’s changes at the fish counter represent an ahead-of-schedule achievement: removing red-label seafood was originally scheduled for early 2013. In honor of Earth Day in 2011, Whole Foods eliminated all swordfish and tuna from red-rated fisheries in their stores. Other vulnerable species, such as Chilean sea bass and bluefin tuna, were removed from their fish counters in earlier years.

Some of the fish no longer available at Whole Foods includes gray sole, skate, Atlantic halibut, turbot, and sturgeon. While there has been concern on the East Coast about the effect these changes will have on local fishermen, there is still plenty of seafood—haddock, scallops and hake—from New England waters for sale at Whole Foods Market.

Image courtesy of Linda Cronin.