Hy-Vee Paves Way in Sustainable Seafood with New Shelf-Stable Tuna Policy

Hy-Vee is reinforcing its commitment to responsibly sourced seafood by announcing the expansion of its Seafood Procurement Policy to include shelf-stable tuna. The news comes one year after Hy-Vee met its goal to source 100 percent of its fresh and private label frozen seafood from responsible sources, and three years after Hy-Vee unveiled its Responsible Choice seafood labeling program.

“Shelf-stable tuna is a challenging and complex category, but we are committed to taking positive and meaningful steps to be part of the solution,” said Brett Bremser, executive vice president of perishables at
Hy-Vee. “By establishing a policy for our shelf-stable tuna, we are initiating the next phase of Hy-Vee’s sustainable seafood journey.”

Hy-Vee’s expanded Seafood Procurement Policy states that it is committed to sourcing shelf-stable tuna from fisheries that are (in order of preference): 1) certified by the Marine Stewardship Council with supply chain traceability (Chain of Custody); and/or 2) Green or Yellow rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program; and/or engaged in fishery improvement projects making measurable and time-bound progress.
Hy-Vee’s policy relies on these internationally recognized sustainability programs and guidelines because they incorporate criteria and standards that address the biggest issues in tuna sustainability, including overfishing of tuna stocks, bycatch of non-target species, habitat and ecosystem impacts, and management effectiveness.

The Hy-Vee Seafood Procurement Policy also includes language recognizing the importance of traceability to ensure seafood is from legal and verifiable sources, the responsibility to uphold human rights in its seafood supply chains and the need to support and engage in initiatives to drive positive outcomes in fisheries and aquaculture production.

“As we enter the fourth year of our Responsible Choice seafood program, Hy-Vee remains dedicated to doing business in a manner that promotes the well-being of our customers, employees, communities and the global environment,” Bremser said. “We recognize that in order to continue achieving our mission, we need to stay ahead of emerging issues.”

In 2013, due to concerns over the high levels of bycatch in fish aggregating device-associated purse seine fisheries and in longline tuna fisheries, Hy-Vee developed two Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified
Hy-Vee Select canned tuna products. Moving forward, Hy-Vee will work with its suppliers to improve the environmental, traceability and social responsibility of all shelf-stable tuna products it sells.

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy was developed in partnership with FishWise. We are a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that promotes the health and recovery of ecosystems through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.

FishWise commends Hy-Vee’s willingness to begin identifying and addressing the environmental and social impacts of its shelf-stable tuna supply chains. The expanded Seafood Procurement Policy paves the way for more sustainable tuna options in the aisles of Hy-Vee stores and sets an ambitious example for other companies to follow.

Ocean Vacations: Reduce Your Impact

Hy-Vee customers from the Midwest often love to spend vacations by the ocean, relaxing and taking in the sights, smells and sounds. Even while on vacation, there are small steps travelers can take to reduce their impact on the ocean.

Reducing Impacts on Oceans

  1. Trash and Recycling: After spending a day outdoors, make sure to pack all trash before leaving the beach and dispose of it properly. Recycle any materials that you can, such as paper or beverage containers.
  2. Respect the Environment. Don’t touch or feed the ocean animals. Travelers may come across animals on the land and in the sea, but it’s best to leave them alone and simply observe, not interfere. Also, do not damage or remove any plants.
  3. Choose environmentally friendly transport. Perhaps you’ll stay oceanside, but if not, consider walking, biking or at least taking public transportation to get there. Be sure to stay on trails and public footpaths to respect the local environment.
  4. The Seafood Watch App: Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s free Seafood Watch app to your phone. Dining out while on vacation is always a highlight. Using the app, you’ll have instant access to find sustainable seafood options at restaurants and stores and more.

For more information, visit the Ocean Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation.

Guardian + FishWise Interactive Article

FishwiseFishWise is a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy that works with Hy-Vee and other major U.S. retailers to promote the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems through environmentally responsible business practices. We partnered with Hy-Vee in 2011, and since then, we have worked together determined to transform Hy-Vee’s seafood department into a top destination for sustainable seafood.

Recently, FishWise partnered with the Guardian to create an interactive article to raise awareness of seafood sustainability issues and progress, highlight key FishWise business partners as part of the larger sustainable seafood movement, and encourage consumers to choose seafood with a better understanding of sustainability. The article shines a spotlight on Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice labeling program as a model for promoting customer education and awareness of sustainable seafood at the seafood counter.

From the article: “One way that Hy-Vee ensures supplier accountability is by performing traceability audits on high-risk seafood products – tracking shipments from Hy-Vee stores back through the supply chain to the source, like a vessel or a farm, with FishWise’s help.”

Read the entire interactive Guardian piece featuring Hy-Vee, other retailers, restaurants and suppliers here:
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-seafood/ng-interactive/2016/mar/29/fish-supermarkets-albertsons-suppliers-tuna-fishwise-educate

Hy-Vee Continues To Support Its Ross Sea Pledge Despite Protection Plan Setbacks

In late October at its annual meeting, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources failed again — for the fifth time — to pass a plan to protect key areas in the Ross Sea and in East Antarctica. CCAMLR is a regional fisheries management organization in the Antarctic Ocean comprised of representatives from 25 different countries. In order for conservation measures like protection for the Ross Sea to pass, all 25 countries are required to reach a final consensus.

The Ross Sea is one of the last remaining sections of ocean that has not been harmed by overfishing, pollution or invasive species. The proposed measure would have provided long-term protection of many species, including penguins, seals, and whales and their critical habitats. In addition, the protected areas would act as a living laboratory for scientists to conduct research in this near-pristine ecosystem.

The good news is that China issued a statement of support for a revised Ross Sea Proposal, marking the first time China has not actively blocked the plan. Russia also issued a statement saying it is committed to an inter-sessional discussion of the proposal.

According to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation news article, U.S. State Department delegate Evan Bloom said despite the setback, the joint revised proposal from the United States and New Zealand made progress by getting China on board for the first time with only Russia remaining opposed. Bloom hopes to work with Russia and other countries to try to “finish this off next year,” he said.

Hy-Vee continues to support the creation of a marine protected area in the Ross Sea, and will continue to refuse purchasing Chilean sea bass sourced there. Hy-Vee stands true to its commitment to the Ross Sea. By signing the Ross Sea Pledge, Hy-Vee has given its word that it won’t be part of that developing problem and is, in fact, part of the solution. Hy-Vee supports creation of a Marine Protected Area to protect the area against commercial fishing and pollution. This initiative is broadly supported by governments, scientists, non-governmental organizations and the fishing industry.

By taking a hands-off approach to that species from the Southern Ocean, Hy-Vee joins others in working to reduce the level of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the Southern Ocean.

October is National Seafood Month

October is National Seafood Month, and it’s a great time to celebrate ocean-friendly seafood while focusing on some of the key issues behind responsible seafood. It’s also an opportunity to illustrate U.S. fisheries’ successes and challenges as we turn the corner on ending overfishing and begin to rebuild fish stocks.

Hy-Vee offers customers smart seafood choices from environmentally responsible fisheries, allowing customers the health benefits of eating a diet rich in seafood.

In the U.S., roughly half of the seafood we eat is farmed, but aquaculture isn’t well understood by the vast majority of consumers. That’s unfortunate, because even if the oceans were being fished sustainably, we can’t meet the current seafood demand. Responsible aquaculture is the only way to do it. Next time you’re shopping at Hy-Vee, consider one of the Responsible Choice farmed seafood items, the majority of which are rated as a Green ‘Best Choice’ or Yellow ‘Good Alternative’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

Responsible Choice LabelSeafood products bearing the “Responsible Choice” symbol meet Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy and are caught or farmed in a responsible manner. Specifically, these options are rated as either Green “Best Choice” or Yellow “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, or are certified to an environmental standard benchmarked to at least these ratings. Hy-Vee features more than 100 items bearing the label. Look for this symbol to ensure you’re making a responsible choice when purchasing seafood.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative is a commitment to protecting the environment.

We encourage you to do your own research as well. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website to learn more about the impact fishing and aquaculture have on the environment.

Seafood Eco-Certifications

Hy-Vee’s goal is to provide seafood that is not only safe for our customers but also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term sustainability while minimizing damage to the environment. Seafood buyers and suppliers prefer to source seafood from third-party-certified facilities for a variety of environmentally and socially responsible policy reasons. The three eco-certification programs detailed below are the most commonly accepted under Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy. These certifications have been benchmarked to the Seafood Watch standard that makes up the foundation of the policy and have been found to be equivalent to a Yellow ‘Good Alternative’ at a minimum.

These certifications are:

  1. Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
    • For wild fisheries only
    • Eligible species are: all wild-caught species
  2. The MSC standards were developed through consultation with the fishing industry, scientists, conservation groups, experts and stakeholders. These standards detail the requirements for fisheries to be certified as sustainable and for businesses to trade in certified seafood. Fisheries and seafood businesses voluntarily seek certification against the relevant standards. These standards meet international best practice guidelines for certification and eco-labeling.

  3. Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)
    • For farmed species only
    • Eligible species are: shrimp, pangasius (swai), bivalves
  4. The ASC’s primary role is to manage the global standards for responsible aquaculture, which were developed by the WWF Aquaculture Dialogues. ASC works with aquaculture producers, seafood processors, retail and food-service companies, scientists, conservation groups and consumers to recognize and reward responsible aquaculture through the ASC aquaculture certification program and seafood label. Their hope is to provide the best environmental and social choice when buying seafood and to contribute to transforming seafood markets towards sustainability.

  5. Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) Administered by the Global Aquaculture Alliance
    • For farmed species only
    • Eligible species are: shrimp (2-star, 3-star or 4-star certified), pangasius (swai), mussels
  6. BAP standards encompass the entire aquaculture production chain, including farms, processing plants, hatcheries and feed mills. All standards address every key element of responsible aquaculture, including environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal welfare and traceability. The seafood processing plant standards are benchmarked against the latest Global Food Safety Initiative food safety requirements. A market development team actively promotes the BAP program to retailers and food-service operators worldwide on behalf of BAP-certified facilities.

Hy-Vee-backed bill to combat illegal fishing passes U.S. House

Legislation designed to crack down on illegal fishing that threatens seafood sustainability in some U.S. waters has cleared an important hurdle but faces another before becoming law.

Hy-Vee is among a contingent of retailers, environmental groups and industry leaders supporting House File 774: the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015.

The measure passed on a voice vote July 27 and now heads for consideration in the United States Senate.

The bipartisan legislation is designed to:

  • Strengthen enforcement by building domestic capacity for monitoring and identifying illegal fishing.
  • Create stiffer penalties for vessels caught illegally fishing in U.S. waters
  • Implement legislation needed for the U.S. to ratify the United Nations Port States Measures Agreement, an international treaty to close ports to foreign vessels engaged in illegal fishing and help prevent illicitly caught seafood from entering legitimate seafood markets. Fourteen of a required 25 countries must ratify the agreement, which the United States Senate approved in April 2014.

To learn more about ways to address illegal fishing, visit FishWise’s Traceability & IUU Fishing Resources.

Seafood Documentaries You May Want To See

As a reader of Seafoodies, we know you care about responsibly sourced seafood. Hy-Vee works with FishWise to ensure that all efforts are supporting conservation through environmentally responsible business practices. Education is a large piece of our efforts. Hy-Vee strives to educate their employees and customers about seafood quality, safety and sustainability.

When you have time to enjoy a documentary, we recommend the following to expand your knowledge about the problems and challenges of our beautiful ocean ecosystems.

  1. Empty Oceans, Empty Nets
    According to pbs.org, Empty Oceans, Empty Nets explores the marine fisheries crisis and the pioneering efforts of fishermen, scientists and communities to sustain and restore these fisheries and our oceans. An ongoing international debate surrounds the complex problems and how best to solve them. Understanding why some fisheries are thriving while some are in most serious decline may be the key to averting an impending food crisis.

  2. The Last Ocean
    This film received many accolades throughout the industry. The film’s synopsis from the website: “The Ross Sea, Antarctica is the most pristine stretch of ocean on Earth. A vast, frozen landscape that teems with life – whales, seals and penguins carving out a place on the very edge of existence. Californian ecologist David Ainley has been traveling to the Ross Sea to study this unique ecosystem for more than 30 years. He has written scientific papers describing it as a “living laboratory.” Largely untouched by humans, it is one of the last places where the delicate balance of nature prevails. But an international fishing fleet has recently found its way to the Ross Sea and is targeting Antarctic toothfish, sold as Chilean sea bass in restaurants around the world.

    Please read about Hy-Vee’s Ross Sea pledge and decision to discontinue Chilean sea bass.

  3. The Breach
    The website says, “When fishing guide and filmmaker Mark Titus learns why wild salmon populations plummeted in his native Pacific Northwest, he embarks on a journey to discover where the fish have gone and what might bring them back. Along the way, Titus unravels a trail of human hubris, historical amnesia and potential tragedy looming in Alaska – all conspiring to end the most sustainable wild food left on the planet.”

Sharks in the News

Sharks have been in the news lately, causing fear among many people. But the reality is that just as sharks seem dangerous to us, they are in danger themselves. Sharks are crucial to healthy ocean ecosystems but many species are now endangered as a result of overfishing. In an effort to support healthy oceans, Hy-Vee has committed to not sell shark meat to its customers.

Sharks have been on Earth for at least 400 million years (Worm et al 2013). In general, sharks grow slowly, mature late and produce few young over a long lifespan. These biological characteristics make them especially vulnerable to fishing pressure.

Every year approximately 100 million sharks are killed in commercial fisheries. There is increasing global demand for shark fins, endangering certain species like scalloped hammerheads.

Even when consumers make the choice to not eat shark, it’s important to ensure they are choosing to eat responsibly caught fish. More than half of the sharks caught each year are caught as bycatch in non-directed fisheries where they are not the species being targeted.

Declines in shark populations contributes to changes in abundance of their prey and can upset the balance of ocean ecosystems. Sharks are key predators and therefore have an important role in healthy ocean ecosystems, according to the NOAA.

The Discovery Channel’s annual “Shark Week” began Sunday, July 5. For more information, including ways in which you can help save sharks, visit http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/shark-week.

What Does Dolphin-Safe mean?

When purchasing canned tuna, you may have seen “dolphin-safe” label on the can. But what exactly does that mean?

In the U.S., the dolphin-safe label is focused on the relationship between yellowfin tuna and herds of dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. In this area of the ocean, large mature yellowfin tuna swim under certain species of dolphins for reasons that are not fully known by scientists. Due to the area’s unique oceanographic characteristics, the grouping of yellowfin tuna and dolphins rarely occurs in other areas of the ocean.

A fishery in the area uses dolphins to locate tuna by chasing them and encircling the dolphins with the tuna in a huge net called a purse seine. In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of dolphins were killed by the fishery. Public concern over the impact to dolphin populations in this area led to the development of the dolphin-safe label as a way for consumers to ensure that no dolphins were harmed to make their canned tuna.

In the 1980s, a campaign was launched to encourage Americans to boycott canned tuna. In response to the boycott, the three major canned tuna companies, Bumble Bee, Starkist and Chicken of the Sea, pledged to only purchase tuna caught without chasing and encircling dolphins in purse seine nets. To advertise this to consumers, they placed a blue label on the can, which effectively closed the U.S. market to purse seine vessels fishing in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Rather than guaranteeing that no dolphins were killed in the fishing process, the label signifies that in tuna items sourced from the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, dolphins were not chased and encircled to capture the tuna.

Soon after the tuna companies created the label, the U.S. government adopted the labeling procedures into law with the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act of 1987.

Hy-Vee customers can enjoy any brand of canned tuna they choose, as every type Hy-Vee offers carries the dolphin-safe label. Customers can be assured that the canned tuna they buy at Hy-Vee did not come from vessels that chase and encircle herds of dolphins. In addition, Responsible Choice Hy-Vee Select canned skipjack and albacore tuna are caught with methods that are both dolphin-safe and environmentally friendly. You can read more about the items in a previous blog post.