Whole Foods (NYSE:WFM) is cleaning up its act in the fish department.
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The company will become the first national grocer this year to stop selling red-rated seafood, which includes species and habitats that are suffering from overfishing or harmful fishing methods.
As of April 22, Atlantic halibut, grey sole, skate and others will no longer be offered in Whole Foods because of their red ratings.
The Austin, Texas-based grocer said its fishmongers will help recommend alternatives, such as MSC-certified Pacific halibut and yellow-rated Dover sole and Atlantic flounder.
“Not only will shoppers take home a delicious piece of fish but also the peace of mind that they are doing their part to ensure fish for future generations,” Whole Foods global seafood buyer, David Pilat, said in a statement.
Ratings on seafood are determined by nonprofit research organizations Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, which Whole Foods partnered with in 2010.
A green, “best choice” rating, represents species that are abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways. Yellow indicates some concerns with the species of catching method, but is considered the next best option.
Whole Foods said seafood sold without the color-coded rating by Blue Ocean or Monterey Bay is still deemed sustainable, but by the Marine Stewardship Council, which remains the company’s primary indicator for seafood sustainability.
The organic foods seller said the move comes a year ahead of its self-imposed deadline of Earth Day 2013.