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Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light For Seafood At Whole Foods | News

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Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light For Seafood At Whole Foods
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ATLANTA -- The figures are staggering -- and frightening.

Since 1950, the numbers of all the large fish in the oceans, from marlin and bluefin tuna, to cod and flounder, have dropped by 90 percent.

Overfishing and the destruction of ocean environments are responsible.

If the fish populations ever recover, it will be because consumers change their buying and eating habits. The marketplace seems to realize that.

For some, Whole Foods is like the Disneyworld of supermarkets -- bright colors, sparkling displays,exotic foods. But in the seafood department, there is a decidedly adult message.

"Well our point is to really work on developing more sustainable practices with seafood," said Whole Foods' Alisha Cave. "We want to get rid of the overfishing and the bycatch that's going on."

Whole Foods has joined the growing number of grocery chains changing the way they sell seafood.

They are ranking their seafood like a traffic signal: green for the most abundant seafood caught in the most sustainable way, yellow for 'use caution before buying' -- and red for don't do it.

To come up with this color-coded seafood rating system, Whole Foods collaborated with environmental group The Blue Ocean Institute, and the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.

"We have actually started to eliminate several types of fish already," Cave said. "Bluefin tuna, sharks (are) just a few examples."

Whole Foods will continue to sell red-rated seafood to give its customers and its fishermen some time to change their habits.

"Earth Day 2013, we plan to phase out all of our red ranked seafood," Cave said.

The message seems to be getting through. Some of the fish Whole Foods had previously tagged with the red code is now yellow, because the fishermen who supply those fish have cleaned up their acts.

"It tells us that customers are paying attention to where their food comes from," Cave said.

Shopper Wendy Babchin wasn't aware of the color coded rating system. She said she likes it.

"If uh you came to the store today with a specific purchase in mind -- seafood purchase," Babchin was asked by 11Alive's Marc Pickard, "And it was color-rated red, which is the lowest on the scale, would you change your purchase?"

"Absolutely," Babchin said. "I wouldn't buy it."

The future of the oceans will depend on whether shoppers like Wendy Babchin buy into the system.

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