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.

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.

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.

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.

Grilling Responsible Choice Seafood

In the summer, grilling is one of the best ways to prepare Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice fish and seafood.

Consider these tips the next time you grill fish and seafood.

  1. Start with a clean grill surface that has been lightly sprayed with Hy-Vee non-stick cooking spray.
  2. The fish should only be turned once during cooking.
  3. Cook fish for 5 to 6 minutes per side for every inch of thickness. Let the direct heat of the grill do the work for you.

Fresh Alaskan wild salmon is in Hy-Vee stores for the next couple of months and is great on the grill. Other great choices are halibut steaks and tuna. Delicate white fish can work well if you use a grill basket.

Plank it:

A popular way to prepare wild salmon is to cook it on cedar planks, which adds smokiness and a cedar flavor to the fish. To plank salmon, soak the plank in water overnight, and place the salmon on the plank to grill.

If you want to infuse your fish with other flavors, try soaking the planks in a smoked porter beer or an oaked chardonnay.

Thursday’s Seafoodies recipe post will feature grilled Responsible Choice salmon on a cedar plank, so be sure to stop back for that!

Pouch it:

If you don’t want to take a chance of the fish sticking, cook it en papillote, which literally means cooking “in paper.” If you’re using parchment paper, use medium-high indirect heat to prevent the paper from burning. Add a little white wine, some fresh herbs and vegetables or citrus fruits, like lemon, orange or grapefruit, and you’ve got a meal in a bag.

A foil pouch will also work — just make sure you poke a few holes in the foil to allow the smoke flavor to infuse.

Seasoning:

Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice fish and seafood have fresh flavor that don’t require a lot of seasonings or spices. I like to use Hy-Vee’s Fish and Seafood Grinder Seasoning or simple sea salt and cracked black pepper with some fresh lemon to allow the fish’s natural flavor to shine.

Marinate it in alcohol:

An alcohol marinade can release a new flavor sensation, but be sure not to overdo it. Alcohol is great for tenderizing — try 30 minutes, which is just long enough to infuse the flavor. If the fish is in the marinade too long, especially if it’s an acidic marinade, the proteins can begin to coagulate and the cooking process can begin.

Some combinations to think about are scallops with a tequila lime sauce or wild salmon glazed with bourbon and brown sugar.

Skin on or off:

Whether to keep or remove the skin on your fish is a matter of preference. If you plan to remove the skin, start with the presentation side down on the grill and flip it only once, after about 4 minutes.

If you’re going to leave the skin on, that’s the presentation side and there is no need to flip it. Just be sure the skin is crispy and not mushy.

Wait for the fish to naturally release itself from the grill while it is cooking, as moving it around can tear the flesh.

Other fish:

Catfish, tilapia, cod and delicate white fishes generally don’t hold up well when placed directly on the grill grates, but you can still enjoy them. Hy-Vee sells stainless steel fish baskets that will keep your fillets intact while grilling.

Whole rainbow trout also works well. Score the skin on both sides and slip citrus and herbs under the skin to add more flavor. Some of the herbs that work well include thyme, tarragon, fennel, dill, rosemary and oregano.

NOAA Fisheries’ Status of Stocks 2014 Report Finds Overfishing in the United States is at an All-Time Low

The Status of Stocks report is an annual assessment by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service that evaluates progress toward sustainable management of fish stocks in the United States. A stock is a part of a fish population, usually with a particular migration pattern and specific spawning grounds.

The study tracks whether stocks are on the overfished list or overfishing list. A stock is on the overfishing list when the annual catch rate is too high. A stock is on the overfished list when the population size of a stock is too low, whether because of fishing or oceanographic changes.

There were 469 stocks included in the assessment, and in 2014, the number of overfished stocks and stocks that were subject to overfishing was the lowest since NOAA began tracking stock status in 1997. In 2014, 26 stocks were on the overfishing list and 37 were on the overfished list.

These findings highlight the United States’ continued progress toward sustainably managing fish stocks. This progress is a result of the combined efforts of NOAA fisheries, the regional fishery management councils, the fishing industry and other partners.

The number of stocks on these lists has been steadily declining due to successful efforts to rebuild fisheries, which can be accomplished by establishing and enforcing catch limits, gear restrictions, minimum sizes, temporal area closures and other management tools. Six stocks —snowy grouper on the southern Atlantic coast, North Atlantic albacore, haddock in the Gulf of Maine, gag grouper in the South Atlantic, the Jacks complex in the Gulf of Mexico and Bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic — were removed from the overfishing list. Two stocks are no longer listed as overfished — gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic albacore — and were removed from both lists.

Hy-Vee customers can feel reassured that purchasing seafood caught in the U.S. is a good choice. The U.S. government is monitoring the health of its fisheries and ensuring that they are being fished sustainably, while fishermen in the U.S. are dedicated to following the laws governing fisheries management.

Hy-Vee labels Responsible Choice seafood, so keep an eye out for seafood caught in the United States, such as king crab, wild Alaskan salmon, Pacific halibut, Pacific cod, U.S. Alaska pollock and sablefish/black cod.

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 features Responsible Choice Mt. Cook farmed salmon

A heart-healthy and tasty option this season, Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Mt. Cook farmed salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids; vitamins A, B, D and E; and plenty of protein power. Sourced from Mt. Cook Alpine salmon, the salmon is from farms rated as a Green “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, which is the highest rating farmed salmon has ever received. The seafood is farmed in a freshwater lake in southern New Zealand, and the farm uses no antibiotics, growth hormones or chemicals to bring the fish to market.