Hy-Vee Supports Fishery Improvements in the Gulf of Mexico and Indonesia, Honors Commitment to Responsible Choice Initiative

In a market where consumers are concerned about their food supply – where their food is sourced, the environmental impact and overall quality – Hy-Vee has taken significant strides to improve upon each aspect. As part of Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice seafood initiative, Hy-Vee is supporting various fishery improvement projects (FIPs) to improve management practices, sustainability and traceability efforts.

What is a FIP? Let’s take a closer look. As defined by the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, a network of organizations to which my organization FishWise belongs, a FIP is a multi-stakeholder effort to improve a fishery that draws upon market forces. Other components for a successful FIP include a work plan and budget, buy-in from stakeholders to make changes and provide funding, and a system in place to monitor progress. Several goals may be established as part of the improvement project. From funding for improved, sustainable gear to increased data collection and certification, retailers can support FIPs in different ways.

Ultimately, Hy-Vee’s goal in supporting FIPs is to ensure each fishery utilizes environmentally friendly practices and provides a safe, quality product for its customers. Hy-Vee wants to be proactive in raising the performance of all the fisheries they source from to meet their Responsible Choice standard for seafood.

Gulf of Mexico Shrimp FIPs
With ninety percent of Gulf shrimp consumed in the United States, the U.S. shrimp industry in the Gulf of Mexico initiated FIPs to ensure it minimized its impact on the environment. Currently, two FIPs are underway in U.S. waters off the coast of Texas and Louisiana for wild-caught brown and white shrimp. Both at Stage 5, creating improvements on the water, each FIP has separate goals.

The Texas Shrimp FIP has two goals: one, to reduce bycatch of non-target species, which can be very high in wild shrimp fisheries; and two, to enforce regulations mandating the use of turtle excluder devices on shrimp trawls. Each goal focuses on improvements for an environmentally conscious catch.

Goals of the Louisiana Shrimp FIP are to create a state Fishery Management Plan and publicize data on bycatch from shrimp trawls and regulations compliance. This type of transparency and responsible management is exactly what Hy-Vee is looking for when considering a supplier.

As part of its commitment to responsibly sourced seafood, Hy-Vee is supporting the improvement projects and sending a strong message to consumers by only purchasing Gulf of Mexico shrimp from supplier Paul Piazza, one of the companies leading FIP activities in both Texas and Louisiana.

Indonesia Snapper and Grouper FIP
Located in the Arafura, Aru and Timor Seas in Indonesia, the Snapper and Grouper FIP is a Stage 3, encouraging improvements in the fishery. The project has three main goals, including support of research to define stock status of Indonesian snapper and promote availability of accurate data; promote traceability to ensure knowledge of origin; and improve overall management of the fishery to encourage sustainable snapper and grouper fishing.

The group of seafood companies executing the FIP recently updated the work plan to indicate progress toward improving the understanding of the species being fished, and promoting legal and responsible fishing methods. This type of commitment and progress is essential for Hy-Vee to continue toward a sustainable future.

As part of the Responsible Choice seafood initiative, Hy-Vee is supporting the Indonesian Snapper and Grouper FIP by only purchasing Malabar snapper from North Atlantic, a supplier heavily involved in the improvement project.

By showing support of suppliers actively participating in FIPs, Hy-Vee is acknowledging and rewarding these organizations for their continuous improvements in sustainability, traceability and environmental stewardship. Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice seafood initiative is more than an idea; it is a promise to customers. Hy-Vee’s commitment is executed through each purchasing decision and reflects the standards set within the Responsible Choice initiative.

Author: Kathleen Mullen-Ley

My name is Kathleen Mullen-Ley, and I am a project manager for FishWise. FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy, has been working with Hy-Vee to research and recommend seafood product sourcing, develop and implement Hy-Vee's Responsible Choice Seafood materials and staff training, and analyze data to measure progress towards Hy-Vee's 2015 Commitment. I hold a master’s degree in marine biodiversity and conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from the University of California Santa Cruz. My graduate research project was an analysis of the World Trade Organization ruling on the U.S. dolphin-safe tuna label and its implications for future market-based marine conservation efforts. My experience analyzing fishery management issues and communicating marine science to diverse audiences combined with my respect for ocean life has made me well-prepared to take on the challenges of sustainable seafood.

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