Whole Foods Market has become the latest retail Member of the International Pole & Line Foundation (IPNLF), the non-profit association that is committed to supporting small-scale fisheries that pursue high quality, responsible and ethical tuna caught using one-by-one methods. With the backing of its Members, IPNLF provides much-needed support for fishing communities who are heavily reliant upon those fisheries, through practical fisheries improvements and stronger management to meet the growing global demand.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market is the leading natural and organic foods retailer in the United States. It currently has more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and employs approximately 87,000 team members.
Whole Foods Market’s membership of IPNLF is the latest step in the company’s efforts to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability. Earlier this year, Whole Foods Market announced a new sourcing policy for sustainable, traceable canned tuna – becoming the first retailer in the United States to create storewide requirements spanning grocery products and prepared foods items.
Through this commitment, by January 2018 all canned tuna sold in its stores will meet rigorous sustainability and traceability requirements that aim to reduce overfishing and by-catch, and support fishing communities. Under the new policy, all of the canned tuna sold at Whole Foods Market must come from fisheries using only one-by-one catch methods. These fisheries must also either be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council or rated green or yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center. This includes canned tuna items in the grocery aisles as well as in the prepared foods department.
Every supplier must also use Trace Register traceability software that tracks the tuna from vessel to can. Traceability data is continuously crosschecked to help verify sourcing and prevent illegally caught fish from entering the supply chain.
“Joining the International Pole & Line Foundation amplifies our collective efforts to be a positive force for change for our oceans and the fishing communities who depend on them,” said Carrie Brownstein, Global Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “IPNLF has been a key partner, helping us to develop our new canned tuna sourcing policy, and supporting Whole Foods Market’s mission to move the seafood industry toward greater sustainability.”
Commenting on Whole Foods Market’s membership, Adam Baske, Director Policy & Outreach at IPNLF, says, “We are delighted to welcome Whole Foods Market as our latest retail Member. It is a company that has long stood at the forefront of North America’s sustainable seafood movement; a position that is supported by the strict standards it has placed on all of the fresh and frozen fish and shellfish that it sources. Its new canned tuna policy raises this commitment to another level by recognising the unprecedented demand from sustainability-savvy consumers for tuna caught by one-by-one fishing methods and that trustworthy sources of the product need to be secured now and long into the future. It further distinguishes one-by-one tuna fishing as a crucial economic activity that has for centuries enabled many coastal fishing communities in many countries to maintain their livelihoods and decent living standards while also safeguarding the long-term future of vital fish stocks and marine habitats.”
Membership of IPNLF is open to all stakeholders involved in the one-by-one tuna supply chain, from fisheries associations to processors, foodservice and retailers, and all Members are encouraged to engage in fisheries improvement.