Supermarket chain Whole Foods Market has announced its plans for a new sourcing policy to meet sustainability and traceability requirements and reduce overfishing and bycatch, by next January.

The new policy includes for canned tuna items sold in the grocery and prepared foods departments.

Whole Foods Market is claimed to be the first national retailer to create stringent standards for canned tuna, which is among the three most consumed seafood items in the US.

Under the new policy, all canned tuna at Whole Foods Market must come from fisheries using only pole-and-line, troll, or handline catch methods, all of which catch fish one-by-one, preventing bycatch and creating more jobs in coastal communities.

Whole Foods Market global seafood quality standards coordinator Carrie Brownstein said: “We created this new policy for canned tuna because we want to lead by example in sourcing only the highest quality, sustainably caught tuna.

“Combined with better international fishery management, overfishing and bycatch can be greatly reduced when tuna is caught by these low-impact fishing methods. We are honored to be working with suppliers and partners who are driving positive change.”

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By GlobalData
"We want to lead by example in sourcing only the highest quality, sustainably caught tuna."

These fisheries must either be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, or rated green or yellow by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and The Safina Center.

Every supplier must also use Trace Register software, which tracks each lot of tuna at every point from vessel to can.

This traceability data will be continuously crosschecked to help verify sourcing and prevent illegally caught or unauthorised fish from entering the supply chain.