Whole Foods Selling Seafood Deadly to Sea Turtles

By September 13, 2010Sea Turtles

Whole Foods is pushing more seafood in order to “save” the oceans, and at the expense of endangered sea turtles.  The new “sustainable seafood” red-yellow-green color coding program announced today by Whole Foods totally ignores that longlining for swordfish and tuna kills sea turtles by the thousands. And that tuna and swordfish is often laden with mercury so high that women who want children should not it eat.  See the Whole Foods press release posted by D, a Dallas-based foodie blog.

While Whole Foods is claiming it will remove “red listed” fish in the future, if you try to figure which fish, you can’t. That’s because it is “mixing and matching” store by store the different seafood “sustainability” standards by EITHER the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch OR the Blue Ocean Institute, which are different. For example, the Blue Ocean Institute does not list ANY swordfish as red and gives a GREEN to all U.S. wild caught and farmed shrimp. Pelagic longlining and shrimp trawling kill THOUSANDS of sea turtles every year; and every species is in danger of extinction. Monterey Bay Aquarium still lists Hawaii longline swordfish and tuna as “good alternatives” even though the fishery continues to increase the number of sea turtles it captures. So I suppose that each Whole Foods store will choose which seafood guide to follow depending on the price of fish.

By the way, Whole Foods is definitely not the “first” to use color coded schemes for seafood counters. They STOLE the concept from Fishwise in California.

Whole Foods is also bankrolling the certification by the Marine Stewardship Council of a Florida longline fishery that captures and kills endangered leatherback sea turtles and declining loggerheads that are proposed for endangered listing. If the swordfish and tuna fishery gets the eco-label it seeks, then every other wasteful bycatch fishery in the U. S., Canada and around the world will line up. How can any rational person, fisher, corporation or spin-master really believe that a fishery that kills or harms more than 50 percent of what it catches can be sustainable or ocean friendly?

Well, Whole Foods can because it is big, a brilliant marketer and makes billions. It is the WalMart of the environment. And it is making protecting sea turtles and the oceans harder every day as it markets “sustainability” to the end of the line.

We can’t eat our way out of overexploited oceans. We need to eat less fish and be very picky, like eating catfish and tilapia, not swordfish, shark or tuna.