Seafood Waste: In Numbers

It’s a hard number to stomach, but nearly half of the edible U.S. seafood supply is lost each year. Most of the waste stems from consumers, while additional waste is due to bycatch – catching unintended species of fish, turtles and other creatures and discarding them. A smaller percentage is lost in distribution and retail operations.

These findings come from new research by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), published in the November issue of Global Environmental Change.

“Food waste in general is a source of concern at Hy-Vee,” said Pat Hensley, senior vice president of governmental affairs. “We’re continuously working to combat the issue. Our focus is on working with our suppliers and employees to match supply and demand and to identify other methods of reducing shrink. Given the value of seafood, both economically and a source of healthy protein, anything we can do to reduce waste is time well invested.”

Hy-Vee is not alone in its concerns about the sustainability of the world’s seafood resources. In the U.S. and around the world, people are being advised to eat more seafood, but overfishing, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and the use of fish for other purposes besides human consumption threaten the global seafood supply.

The Johns Hopkins study analyzed the seafood waste issue by focusing on the amount of seafood lost annually at each stage of the food supply chain and at the consumer level. It found that the amount wasted each year is roughly 2.3 billion pounds. Of that waste, the study found that 330 million pounds are lost in distribution and retail, 573 million pounds are lost when commercial fishers catch the wrong species of fish and then discard it (bycatch) and a staggering 1.3 billion pounds are lost at the consumer level.

For more information, you can read details of the study here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378015300340 and here http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2015/nearly-half-of-u-s-seafood-supply-is-wasted.html

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.

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.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Initiative Praised by Greenpeace; Ranked Among the Best in the US

Greenpeace released its 2015 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report on July 14, ranking Hy-Vee at third out of the 25 largest supermarket chains in the U.S. Greenpeace evaluates and ranks supermarkets in the CATO report based on their efforts to protect both the oceans and seafood industry workers since 2008.

Hy-Vee moved up to the top three this year, finishing in the “good” category and scoring above a 7 out of 10 for the first time. Hy-Vee was evaluated on the sustainability of its seafood in four key areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency and Red List inventory. This is only the second year Hy-Vee has been included in the report.

Hy-Vee was praised by Greenpeace for its efforts to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing through political advocacy and participation in industry and NGO-led conversations to identify solutions.

Greenpeace congratulated Hy-Vee on its Responsible Choice canned skipjack and albacore tuna products, which are produced exclusively with tuna caught using environmentally friendly methods. You can read more about Hy-Vee’s canned tuna in this Seafoodies post.

Hy-Vee’s decision to discontinue Chilean sea bass – due to concerns about overfishing and bycatch of threatened or endangered species – also helped improve its ranking, as it’s the only of the top retailers to do so. Hy-Vee’s stance against genetically modified fish was also highlighted as a notable achievement.

Greenpeace writes: “After its ‘Carting Away the Oceans‘ debut last year, Hy-Vee doubled down on its strong performance, coming in third place overall and entering the good category for the first time. Hy-Vee means business about sustainable seafood. … Hy-Vee dropped Chilean sea bass, issued a strong public statement against GMO seafood, is on track to hit its 2015 sustainability goals and twice weighed in at key moments to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing in the industry by sending letters to Congress.”

Whole Foods ranked first in the report, while Wegmans came in at second. Since the report’s inception, many large retailers including Hy-Vee have developed robust seafood policies. In the CATO Report’s ninth edition, 80 percent of the retailers profiled received at least a passing score of 4 out of 10.

To view the full report, Carting Away the Oceans 9, click here.

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.

Seven Foundations of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy guides our efforts to improve our seafood departments. It states that it is Hy-Vee’s intent to sell seafood that is not only safe for consumption but also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term sustainability while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life.

There are seven foundations of Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy:

  1. Safety, Quality and Freshness. Our procurement practices are designed to ensure safety, quality and freshness are of the highest priority.
  2. Legal Compliance. Hy-Vee will never knowingly buy or sell seafood that has been harvested, transported or otherwise handled in an illegal manner.
  3. Supplier Integrity. We will only do business with suppliers of high ethical standards with a proven commitment to the quality, safety and sustainability of their seafood products.
  4. Quality Information. The concept of seafood sustainability is complex. Decisions on what constitutes sustainable seafood will be made based on fundamentally sound, high-quality data, science and research from a variety of credible sources.
  5. Education and Communication. Hy-Vee will keep our customers, employees and stakeholders informed about our efforts to improve the sustainability and overall quality of our seafood supply.
  6. Transparency. Information on our seafood supply will be transparent, traceable and readily available to our customers.
  7. Partnership. Hy-Vee will work in partnership with our customers, suppliers, other retailers and interested stakeholders to continuously improve the sustainability of the seafood supply chain.

To ensure consistency with these seven foundations, Hy-Vee works with employees, suppliers, regulatory agencies and others to guarantee seafood quality, safety and sustainability.

Our Seafood Procurement Policy outlines our long-term mission to improve our seafood. We are currently focusing on improving our fresh and private label frozen seafood, but we are also looking ahead to identify other areas where we can transition more of our seafood items to be sourced from environmentally responsible partners.

Key takeaways from the Seafood Expo North America conference in Boston

The 2015 Seafood Expo North America was held March 6 to 8. The conference featured more than 20 educational sessions presented by top seafood industry experts, covering the most important and timely issues relevant to today’s seafood business environment.

The hottest topic at the show this year was seafood traceability and efforts to address illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. The Presidential Task Force on IUU and Seafood Fraud unveiled its action plan to implement the Task Force’s 15 recommendations, while three other conference panels and sessions were focused on traceability and IUU. This reinforces that Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy is on the leading edge of efforts by retailers to improve traceability in their seafood supply chains.

Another topic that generated much discussion was the future of retailer seafood commitments. Many retailers, including Hy-Vee, have responsible seafood commitments with a goal of year-end 2015. Once that deadline has been met, future areas of retailer commitments may include responsible commitments for all shelf stable seafood, pet food, fish oil supplements, delis, sushi counters and more.

We foresee that future commitments may also include more vigorous actions to protect human rights. Recent articles have shown that human rights violations are an ongoing problem in the seafood industry, which is exacerbated by a lack of traceability in seafood supply chains.

The 2015 Seafood Expo North America was the largest ever with more than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space. The Hy-Vee, PDI and FishWise team had productive meetings with many of Hy-Vee’s seafood suppliers, discussing everything from shrimp to lutefisk.

For more information, visit the Seafood Expo website: http://www.seafoodexpo.com/north-america/conference.

Earth Day: How Does Responsible Seafood Fit into the Larger Environmental Conservation Picture?

Happy Earth Day. For 45 years, Earth Day has been a celebration of environmental conservation in the United States. The earth is facing a lot of environmental stresses, including overfishing, climate change, air and water pollution and a growing human population. Earth Day is part of a global effort to protect the planet and secure a sustainable future.

Earth Day activities aim to raise awareness on many topics, such as climate change, organic agriculture, clean air and water, clean energy, reducing consumption, recycling, endangered species, healthy oceans and more.

How does sourcing seafood responsibly fit into the larger picture?

The health of our oceans is vital to the environment. The main focus of Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice program is to stop global overfishing. The ocean faces many “health problems” like ocean acidification, offshore drilling and pollution. When the pressure on the oceans from overfishing is reduced, the overall health of the oceans improves. It’s important to reduce habitat damage caused by harmful fishing practices, which also helps reduce the threat to a sustainable ocean future.

Buying Responsible Choice seafood is a way for Hy-Vee customers to contribute to the global Earth Day effort to secure a sustainable future. When customers demand responsibly sourced seafood at grocery stores and restaurants, companies translate that demand up the supply chain and motivate producers to minimize the environmental impact of their operations.

Customers can commit to purchasing seafood caught in U.S. waters, which has well-managed fisheries with enforcement of environmental laws. Shoppers may also consider adding local produce to meals to cut down on fossil fuels used in the transportation of fruits and vegetables.

Consumers can treat every day like Earth Day by using reusable products like bags and water bottles to cut down on waste and reduce energy use. Educating themselves about environmental issues is the first step people can take to learn how to improve their habits to be less harmful to the environment. If everyone makes individual efforts to minimize their impact, together we’ll take a large step forward to protect the planet and secure a sustainable future.

Hy-Vee is striving to be a leader in conservation efforts for the betterment of our environment and our customers. You can read more details at hy-vee360.com and on our recently updated Responsible Choice Seafood website.

Making the Responsible Choice: A Collaborative Effort to Eradicate Human Trafficking, Forced Labor in Seafood Supply Chains

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative is more than a commitment to food safety and protecting the environment, it’s also about responsible sourcing and that includes the safety and well-being of the men and women working throughout the supply chain. In light of the exposure of human trafficking in Southeast Asia and Thailand over the past couple of years and its relation to the seafood industry, Hy-Vee and FishWise urge customers and businesses to support and take interest in how their seafood is being sourced.

The key to responsible sourcing is knowledge. Often times, leading seafood buyers across the globe are indirectly supporting mistreatment of laborers by buying and selling seafood from unregulated markets. One of the biggest issues related to this issue in U.S. seafood procurement is traceability. Without knowledge of where the product came from, companies cannot verify supply chain compliance with labor laws and human rights standards. The issue is further complicated in seafood supply chains when demand for low prices undermines responsible business practices, and a lack of regulations and inadequate oversight open the door for various labor abuses.

Hy-Vee is continuously working to improve transparency in its seafood supply chains by ensuring their products are traceable back to the point of harvest — whether it’s a fishery or farming operation. To this end, Hy-Vee regularly collects information about the chain of custody and sustainability of seafood products from their suppliers, and Hy-Vee’s seafood vendors have been notified of the commitment to responsible sourcing and traceability.

As a customer, there are several ways you can be part of the conversation. First, ask questions when purchasing seafood in a store or at a restaurant. Questions related to where the seafood came from, how they trace their seafood and if the seafood is a responsibly sourced item produced with fair labor standards are a good place to start. This sends the message that traceability is important to you and encourages business owners to be held accountable. From there, you can take action by supporting retailers and restaurants that are committed to responsible sourcing.

Hy-Vee has committed to selling responsibly sourced fresh and frozen seafood that is rated as a Green “Best Choice” or a Yellow “Good Alternative” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings, or sourced from credible, time-bound improvement projects. You can make informed and sustainable seafood purchasing decisions by utilizing the seafood buying guides on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website at seafoodwatch.org or the Seafood Watch app on your smartphone.

In addition to customer concern, all companies must implement responsible sourcing plans to ensure that human trafficking, forced labor and other human rights violations are not present in their supply chains. U.S. retailers, foodservice providers, distributors and others in the supply chain can use their buying power to lead change in the entire seafood industry.

There are several steps U.S. seafood businesses can take to ensure they are not buying seafood associated with human rights abuses. First and foremost, organizations should ensure products can be traced to origin and names and addresses of all entities that handled the product can be identified. Companies can also support labor audits through all steps in the supply chain, ensure each link in the supply chain makes a documentable pledge to customers to avoid labor abuse, share concerns and stipulate procurement on the supplier’s ability to regulate human trafficking and labor violations, and finally, communicate clearly with customers. This entails providing the origin of fisheries and the actions taken to guarantee products are not connected to human rights abuses, labor violations or environmental damage.

Hy-Vee has taken steps to ensure responsible sourcing through the Responsible Choice initiative. With collaborative efforts, we can all help to eradicate human trafficking and forced labor in today’s global seafood industry.

For more information visit FishWise’s Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Q & A:
http://fishwise.org/index.php/press/blog/286-human-trafficking-forced-labor-and-seafood-q-a