As reported in the last few weeks, Whole Foods is increasing restrictions on seafood that it will sell. Specifically, it is eliminating items that are the most ecologically troublesome and therefore rated as “red” (avoid) by the Blue Ocean Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, two organizations pushing for more sustainable seafood production. As Abby Goodnough of The New York Times reported from New England last week, such decisions will have immediate impacts on some fishers.
Although the new policy will affect fishermen nationwide, the reaction from Gloucester and other New England ports may be the unhappiest. New England has more overfished stocks than any other region, according to federal monitors, and its fishing industry has bridled — and struggled to survive — under strict regulations. “We’ve been murdered,” said Russell Sherman, who sold his entire catch to Whole Foods for the last six years and is seeking new buyers. “It’s not fair at all.”… Some question the need for grocery stores to reject certain American-caught fish when the government has already imposed its own conservation measures…. But Ellen Pikitch, director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, said Whole Foods was doing the right thing. “Whole Foods is setting a good example by offering fish from relatively well-managed fisheries,” she said. “It’s too bad that more New England fish don’t qualify, but over time, such market forces should help bring these fish back — both in the ocean and to the Whole Foods seafood counter.”
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