Seafood Watch Upgrades Louisiana Wild Shrimp from Red “Avoid” to Yellow “Good Alternative”

Last month, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program removed Louisiana shrimp caught with otter trawls from its “Avoid” list. The Seafood Watch program now lists Louisiana shrimp the same as it does nearly all other Gulf of Mexico shrimp caught using otter trawls – as a Yellow, “Good Alternative.”

Seafood Watch had recommended in 2013 that consumers avoid the wild shrimp caught by Louisiana fishers because of the state law banning the enforcement of turtle-excluder devices on all shrimp trawls. Often referred to as TEDs, the devices create an opening in shrimp nets to allow trapped turtles to escape before they drown. There are five species of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, and all are protected under the Endangered Species Act. They are loggerhead, green, Kemp’s Ridley, hawksbill and leatherback turtles.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a bill on July 1 repealing a 1987 state law that prohibited Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents from enforcing federal turtle-excluder device regulations. The Louisiana House approved the bill last month 100-0. This change prompted the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program to upgrade Louisiana shrimp caught with otter trawls as a “Good Alternative.”

You’ll find Wild Gulf peeled and deveined Responsible Choice shrimp and other shrimp varieties in our weekly ads throughout the month of August. Just ask your friendly Hy-Vee Seafood team for more information.

What is the Warm Blob?

Scientists across NOAA Fisheries are watching an expanse of extraordinarily warm water spanning the Gulf of Alaska that could affect marine life. The warm spot – coined the “Warm Blob” by meteorologists – appeared nearly two years ago. The longer it stays, the greater impact it will have on ocean life from jellyfish to salmon, researchers say.

The water in the Warm Blob is about five degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the typical ocean temperature. Marine animals from Mexico to Alaska are impacted and it may be altering weather across the continent.

Although five degrees may not seem like a lot, the concern stems from the fact that the Warm Blob has grown from a small patch of water to 500 miles across, and is the largest and longest-lasting temperature difference on record.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what caused the blob, but they think it may have links to the California drought. The temperature change also has caused creatures from tropical and temperate zones to wander north into places where they’re not usually found, and others that normally stay far out at sea have ventured closer to the coast, according to a Seattle Times article.

Changes in sea surface temperature can alter marine ecosystems. For example, variations in ocean temperature will affect what species of plants, animals and microbes are present in a location, change migration and breeding patterns, and threaten sensitive ocean life such as corals. Also, because the oceans continuously interact with the atmosphere, sea surface temperature can also have profound effects on global climate. Increases in sea surface temperature have led to an increase in the amount of water vapor over the oceans, increasing the risk of heavy rain and snow. Changes in sea surface temperature can also shift storm tracks, contributing to droughts in some places.

To read more about the Warm Blob phenomenon, click on this recent article from Discovery: http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/mysterious-warm-water-blob-in-pacific-wreaking-havoc-150617.htm

Hy-Vee’s King of Farmed Salmon

Hy-Vee is excited to offer Mt. Cook salmon as a Responsible Choice for our customers.

This item has been four years in the making. Hy-Vee partnered with Mt. Cook/National Fish in 2010. Hy-Vee was in search of a premium farmed salmon that would meet or exceed our Seafood Procurement Policy. Although it took several years to reach this achievement, it has now paid off. In the past year, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch has labeled Mt. Cook Alpine Salmon as a “Best Choice” pick for farmed salmon. With this achievement, we are now proudly able to label our Mt. Cook King Salmon with our Responsible Choice tag. Hy-Vee customers can feel good knowing that the farmed salmon they are purchasing is one the most environmentally responsible farmed salmon operations in the world. And don’t forget the addition benefits of enjoying delicious seafood that is loaded in Omega-3 and protein.

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Mt. Cook King Salmon comes from New Zealand. Cradled in the wild landscape of the Southern Alps of New Zealand lies one particular part of the canal with Hy-Vee’s name on it. This canal is part of one of the most unique salmon farms in the world. The salmon are fresh water salmon, raised in the swift, cold currents of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, where the water is not only fresh and highly oxygenated, but it flows constantly, which allows the fish to be healthy and lean. The result is a salmon that is moist and delicate to the pallet. Its flavor is mild compared to other salmon flavor profiles, which allows it to attract more consumers looking to add salmon to their meal plans that otherwise are hesitant. Be sure to talk to your Hy-Vee Seafood Specialist today about our Responsible Choice Mt. Cook salmon.

Learn More About Hy-Vee’s Yellowfin Tuna Supplier, Anova

Anova Food is now one of Hy-Vee’s yellowfin tuna suppliers. Environmental and social responsibility are core values to Anova and the company has made many positive accomplishments with all of its key supply tuna fisheries.

As part of Hy-Vee’s Responsible Sourcing Commitment, Anova supplies our stores and consumers with handline caught, yellowfin tuna from both Indonesia and Vietnam that is currently rated as a yellow ‘Good Alternative’ by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Both of these fisheries have completed Marine Stewardship Council pre-assessments and are participating in public and credible fishery improvement projects working toward MSC certification in the near future.

In addition to fishery improvement work, Anova organized a Fishing & Living initiative in 2012 to improve the environmental and social aspects of tuna fisheries, focused on improving fishing practices, improved fishery management, improved fishermen welfare and support of community development in Indonesia.

Much like Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice initiative, Fishing & Living is an industry-led initiative launching from Anova Food’s commitment to source tuna from responsible fisheries that support thriving fishing communities. The Fishing & Living initiative is made possible through collaborations with international and local non-governmental organizations, governments at all levels from local through national, a host of other entities and individuals on-site and working in the communities, and the fishermen themselves.

Since 2012, Fishing & Living has been promoting and leading improvements in the Indonesia handline yellowfin tuna fishery. Given the scattered nature of the fishery, improvements are being implemented in several locations across eastern Indonesia. These include setting up data collection programs at landing sites, Fair Trade programs for wild capture fisheries, fishermen centers in the fishing communities and awareness campaigns on responsible fisheries. All activities are conducted with a multi-stakeholder approach working with local and national fisheries managers, fish traders and the fishermen directly.

For more information about Anova’s Fishing & Living project and for biographies of the fisherman, visit http://fishing-living.org.

Bairdi Snow Crab: “The Best Forgotten” Snow Crab

Hy-Vee Alaska Bairdi snow crab is considered among fisherman and crab lovers as some of the highest quality crab on the market. Its exceptional, sweet flavor and firm texture are easily distinguishable over its cousin, the Opilio snow crab.

For many years, the Bairdi snow crab numbers have been stale, while the Opilio snow crab dominated the markets. Thanks in part to improved management practices by the Alaska Fisheries, the 2013 to 2014 season posted the largest catch in more than 20 years.

Bairdi snow crab are found throughout the Bering Sea. They are typically caught through the use of crab pots similar to those used to catch the larger king crab. The pots are placed at depths ranging from 114 to 1,100 feet. The season opens in January and typically runs through March or April. The catch is all based on strict quota bases that are managed by the state of Alaska, the leaders in seafood sustainability.

Crab lovers will have their opportunity to try some of this delicious crab throughout June at their local Hy-Vee seafood market.

Hy-Vee Celebrating First Seasonal Catch of Responsible Choice Wild Salmon in Stores

Copper River Salmon

Hy-Vee Responsible Choice wild salmon, caught from Alaska’s Copper River, are some of the very first salmon to arrive in stores when the fresh wild season opens in mid-May. This yearly event attracts media attention and draws foodies from around the globe. The celebration kicks off with the first fish arriving in Seattle aboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing jet, a plane that features a huge mural image of salmon along the entire length of the jet.

The consumer demand for this product has grown each year with foodies eagerly waiting for the first salmon to arrive in their local Hy-Vee. The pure, pristine environment of the Copper River helps to create an omega-3 powerhouse. Copper River salmon begin their journey 300 miles downstream at the mouth of the Copper River, then make the long trek up through fast currents and unspoiled glacial-fed waters to reach their spawning grounds. This trek requires the salmon to store extra energy in the form of fat. The one-of-a-kind flavor and texture generates from this fat and makes any seafood lover’s mouth water. It is truly some of the highest prized salmon in the world.

About the River

The Copper River takes its name from the rich copper deposits found along its banks. This massive body of water has 13 major tributaries, is one mile wide and runs at seven miles per hour. The Copper River is the 10th largest river in the United States, and is home to some of finest, well-managed salmon stocks in the world. Alaska’s successful management practices are considered a model of sustainability for the rest of the world. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game monitors fish populations at several points along the Copper River and counts salmon heading up the river to ensure that an adequate number migrate to spawning grounds to reproduce each year. Policies like this have helped Alaska maintain one of the world’s most abundant sources of delicious wild seafood for generations to come. This is why we proudly place our Hy-Vee Responsible Choice label on wild Alaska salmon.

Hy-Vee Introduces Responsible Choice Alaskan Pacific Halibut

With sizes more than 8 feet in length and weights surpassing the 500 pound mark, you can see why the largest of all flatfish is referred to by Alaska fisherman as “Barn Doors” for their massive size. Hy-Vee is pleased to introduce the availability of this popular fish, Alaskan Pacific halibut, to its meat counter.

Pacific halibut is often considered America’s favorite white fish. You can find halibut on restaurant menus and in fresh seafood cases across the country for grilling at home during the summer. Alaskan Pacific halibut is a mild, delicate and sweet-tasting white fish. Uncooked, the meat should be almost translucent — not dull, yellowish or dry. When cooked, the snowy-white meat loses its glossy appearance and flakes at the touch of a fork. As an added bonus, its versatility in the kitchen is almost limitless. The thick, meaty flesh holds up well to a number of cooking methods and sauces, and it’s an ideal item to skewer for a summer BBQ.

Hy-Vee is pleased to label Alaskan Pacific halibut as a Responsible Choice seafood item this year. Today, the only legal fishing method for commercial Pacific halibut fishermen is longline gear, aimed at the typical market size for this year’s catch of 10 to 15 pound halibut, which is much smaller than the 500 pound giants these flatfish can sometimes become. The 2015 season got underway on March 14 and will run until November 7, or until the quota of 29,223,000 pounds is met.

This season, Hy-Vee got its first taste of fresh Pacific halibut the week of season open on March 16. This was possible as all of our fish from Alaska are flown via Fed-Ex® overnight from Alaska to the Des Moines International Airport. After going through our U.S. Department of Commerce Inspection process at Perishable Distributors of Iowa (PDI), Hy-Vee stores have the opportunity to receive fresh halibut that has been out of Alaskan waters for only 48 hours. That is quite a feat, especially in the Midwest.

In general, the Alaska Pacific halibut commercial fisheries, including Hy-Vee’s primary vendor Copper River Seafoods, are selective in the fish they catch because of the size of the hook needed to harvest such a large fish – using a large hook generally reduces bycatch of smaller fish. Fishermen use circle hooks to increase catch rates and to improve the survival of any undersized halibut caught and released during commercial fishing. To reduce bycatch of other ground fish, regulations prohibit commercial Pacific halibut fisheries in specific depths and areas off the West Coast. The United States and Canada coordinate management through a bilateral commission known as the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and the North Pacific and Pacific Fishery Management Councils are responsible for allocating allowable catch among users in the U.S. fisheries through the NOAA FishWatch.

Responsible Choice LabelAlthough the Alaska Pacific halibut commercial fishery industry has changed substantially over the years, the science-based management of the fisheries has remained constant, sustaining this industry for nearly 100 years. This is another testament to the Alaskan fisheries being some the best managed sustainable fishery industries in the world. Because of its well-managed fisheries and practices, Hy-Vee is proud to label Alaskan Pacific halibut with our Responsible Choice logo of approval.

Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Initiative Sets a High Bar for Seafood Traceability

Up to 32 percent of seafood imported to the United States is caught illegally, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Marine Policy in April 2014. Illegally harvested seafood, along with its many implications – nutritional concern, sourcing methods and environmental impact – is one of the reasons Hy-Vee is working to ensure it is part of the solution when it comes to responsible seafood.

Hy-Vee holds itself to high standards through the Responsible Choice initiative, especially dealing with transparency and traceability. Illegally harvested seafood is currently entering the U.S. through legitimate market channels, making it essential that Hy-Vee and all retailers implement and follow strict traceability measures. That is why Hy-Vee has committed to having its seafood traceable back to the point of harvest, either the source vessel or farm, by the end of 2015. And our progress is encouraging. As of January 2015, 79 percent of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced and traceable.

Through the Responsible Choice initiative, Hy-Vee has established strict criteria when it comes to traceability. But what does this actually mean? Traceable seafood can be tracked through each link in the supply chain to its original source. It is crucial to ensure food safety, logistical efficiency, sustainability claims, legality of catch or farm, and proper labeling.

Hy-Vee is able to establish and enforce its responsible seafood efforts with the help of our non-governmental organization partner, FishWise. The organization works with companies throughout the seafood supply chain to support conservation through environmentally responsible business practices.

To this end, Hy-Vee has taken several steps to ensure traceability remains a high priority by regularly collecting information about the chain of custody and sustainability attributes of seafood products from our suppliers; periodically conducting desktop audits of seafood items to ensure they are traceable from a Hy-Vee store back to the point of harvest; and working with vendors to meet our commitment to responsible sourcing and traceability.

Additionally, Hy-Vee has supported federal legislation aimed at minimizing the amount of illegal seafood imported into the United States. Hy-Vee recently sent letters to members of Congress urging them to pass legislation that would close U.S. ports to vessels suspected of carrying illegally harvested fish.

Hy-Vee continues to keep our customers and the environment top of mind. It is our job, and the responsibility of retailers like us, to ensure only a safe, quality selection of seafood is provided to our customers. The Responsible Choice initiative lays the groundwork and sets a standard for us to follow. Traceability is a key component in providing an environmentally responsible and safe product for our customers, and a commitment we are proud to keep.

Sources:
Ganapathiraju Pramod, Katrina Nakamura, Tony J. Pitcher, Leslie Delagran. Estimates of illegal and unreported fish in seafood imports to the USA. Marine Policy, April 2014.

Hy-Vee Commits to Healthy Oceans by Refusing to Sell Chilean Sea Bass

Hy-Vee has pledged to not source Chilean sea bass from the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Chilean sea bass is the market name for two different species: Antarctic toothfish and Patagonian toothfish. However, the only fishery in the world for Antarctic toothfish is in the Ross Sea.

Hy-Vee is taking this action in order to follow through with our commitment to help support healthy oceans. Hy-Vee is proud to give our word that we won’t be part of the developing problem and that we are actually part of the solution.

Toothfish are found throughout large areas of the sub-Antarctic oceans, but primarily in the southern parts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Toothfish are large, slow-growing species that dwell in deeper water depths of 5,000 to 6,000 feet. They play a significant role in the oceans’ ecosystems as both prey and predator. Toothfish are important prey species for killer whales, sperm whales and Weddell seals.

For nearly two decades, toothfish have been overfished in some areas. Most toothfish are caught using bottom longline gear. “Bycatch,” or non-target species accidentally caught during fishing operations, vary widely in toothfish fisheries that use bottom longline. In the Ross Sea, threatened or vulnerable species such as skates, rays and grenadiers are often caught. However, bird bycatch has been steadily decreasing in certain areas due to a number of initiatives, including seabird avoidance gear.

Responsible Choice Copper River Wild Sockeye Salmon

It’s a new year, and many people are making resolutions committing to healthier lifestyles. At Hy-Vee, we make it easy to find delicious, quality wild salmon. We have a large amount of Copper River sockeye salmon for our frozen supply this year, allowing us to offer it to you all year long. These amazing fish have extremely high fat content, high heart-healthy omega-3 content, a rich flavor and a deep ruby-red color. Copper River sockeye have a higher than average oil content due to the swift, cold waters where they live and thrive.

These fish originate from the world-famous Copper River, known for the best salmon available anywhere. Copper River sockeye salmon is Responsible Choice and a testament to our commitment to responsibly source all fresh and Hy-Vee brand seafood. It can be argued that Alaska’s Copper River sockeye are the finest sockeye salmon in the world.

The Copper River or Ahtna River is a 300-mile river in south-central Alaska in the United States. It is known for its extensive delta ecosystem, as well as for its prolific runs of wild salmon, which are among the most highly prized stocks in the world. It is the 10th largest river in the United States, as ranked by average discharge volume at its mouth.

In Alaska, sustainability of the seafood industry is so important that it’s written into the state Constitution. Not only does Copper River wild sockeye salmon meet Hy-Vee’s high standards for freshness, but it’s also fish you can feel good about eating. With the Responsible Choice label comes the confidence in knowing the fishery or farm uses sustainable catch methods.