McDonald's said Thursday that it will be the first national restaurant chain to carry a label from a group that certifies sustainable fishing practices.
The blue "ecolabel" from the Marine Stewardship Council certifies that the Alaskan pollack used in McDonald's Filet-O-Fish sandwiches comes from suppliers with sustainable fishing practices.
Major retail chains including Walmart and Whole Foods already use the council's label. The nonprofit group is paid a royalty fee from companies that use its label. For McDonald's, that means the fee would be based on sales of its fish offerings, such as the Filet-O-Fish and the Fish McBites that will be launched as a limited-time offer next month.
A spokeswoman for McDonald's said the all U.S. stores should have the labeling by early February.
The Marine Stewardship Council, based in Seattle, isn't the only group that offers consumer labeling for seafood. Last year, for example, Whole Foods also stopped carrying wild-caught seafood that's "red-rated," which indicates it's either overfished or caught in a way that harms other species.
The move reflects the growing concerns among consumers about the sources of their seafood.
The Marine Stewardship Council has about 300 fisheries in its program, representing 12 percent to 14 percent of the world's fisheries, said Kerry Coughlin, the group's regional director for the Americas. Coughlin said about 30 percent to 40 percent of fisheries aren't ready when they start a pre-assessment phase, but more than 90 percent obtain certification after beginning the full, official assessment process.
McDonald's gets all its fish in the United States from a single Alaskan pollack fishery, Coughlin said.