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Wild Planet Foods: Setting the standard for sustainably sourced seafood

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A heartfelt view of how the planet inspired a brand–and more importantly–industry-wide change in the US

When seafood industry veteran Bill Carvalho saw the damaging environmental impact of common commercial fishing practices, he made a commitment to only source wild fish in a way that aligned with his strong personal values: respect the planet, take only what it can give, and waste nothing taken. After a particularly eye-opening visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with his family, the nonprofit’s Seafood Watch programme became Bill’s guiding principle. In 2004, he founded Wild Planet Foods, the first large-scale sustainably focused seafood company in the USA, based in McKinleyville, California.

Wild Planet offers a wide array of wild seafood choices with outstanding taste and nutrition. All of their products are sourced according to the highest environmental standards.

How fish are caught matters – not only for the health of the species, but for the health of the surrounding marine ecosystem and our planet as a whole.

The oceans are at risk of reaching their breaking point from overfishing – and more pointedly – from “wrongly fishing.” For example, the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) is a non-selective harvest method that attracts numerous species, not just a target species. These non-target fish become bycatch, or mortality discard, and are a waste of perfectly suitable meals for a hungry human race. Selective harvest methods for tuna, such as pole and line and trolling, have been the hallmark of Wild Planet’s efforts since its inception. These methods rarely catch unintended species like other more conventional commercial tuna fishing methods such as longlining and purse seine fishing.

Having created the shelf-stable sustainable seafood category, Wild Planet has set the standard at retail locations across the country. Every Wild Planet seafood product meets or exceeds very specific sustainability criteria: (a) the species must not be overfished; (b) the habitat cannot be damaged by the fishing method; (c) the catch method must be virtually free from bycatch; and (d) any incidental catch of non-target species is utilised, not discarded.

Originally a tiny niche brand, Wild Planet Foods has grown into the fourth largest canned seafood company in the US. Today Wild Planet offers a wide array of wild seafood choices with outstanding taste and nutrition including tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, yellowtail and anchovies. The company has been instrumental in encouraging consumers to learn about the positive effect their purchasing power can have on the environment. As part of its mission, Wild Planet takes a leadership role in educating retailers and pressuring the industry at large to adopt sustainable policies and procedures.

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