May 2, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SANTA CRUZ, CA. — For the second year in a row, Hy-Vee Inc. and FishWise, a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy, have completed a tuna fishing vessel transparency activity. Tuna are harvested globally, often in remote ocean regions where illegal fishing and human and labor rights abuses can occur without detection. The fishing vessel transparency activity is designed to shed light on the complexity of the company’s fresh, frozen, and canned tuna assortments.
The announcement comes on World Tuna Day, 2023. By conducting this review, Hy-Vee is gaining greater visibility into the supply chain, identifying raw material providers, and proactively engaging with supply chain partners to prevent and mitigate risks for illegal fishing activities and social issues. Working closely with Hy-Vee’s suppliers, FishWise collected and verified data on fishing vessels supplying the retailer’s fresh, frozen, and canned private-label tuna assortments, its national brand fresh/frozen tuna assortment, and a portion of its national brand canned tuna assortment. For the ten-month period, FishWise identified 4,706 handline vessels; 167 pole and line vessels; 44 longline vessels; 44 purse seine vessels; one troll vessel; and one gillnet vessel.
“At Hy-Vee, we are committed to providing our customers with seafood that is sourced responsibly, which means doing our best to understand what is happening on the fishing vessels supplying our business with tuna,” said Jason Pride, vice president of meat and seafood at Hy-Vee.
“Only a few years ago, it was extremely difficult to collect data down to the vessel level for tuna,” stated Ethan Lucas, Project Director at FishWise. “Now, with improved data access, we have the ability to not only identify the names of tuna fishing vessels but we can leverage publicly available tools, like Global Fishing Watch, to begin understanding the fishing history of those vessels and their behaviors at sea.”
FishWise cross-referenced each unique fishing vessel name, excluding handline vessels, with the ISSF Proactive Vessel Register, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMO) vessel lists, IUU Vessel List, FishWise Labor Allegations List (non-public resource), and the Global Fishing Watch (GFW) database. The handline vessels were too small to be referenced within publicly available databases, as their size does not qualify them to receive International Maritime Organization (IMO) numbers.
“When a business takes this level of responsibility for its supply chains, there is a strong incentive to ensure that raw material sourcing aligns with public commitments. This activity is part of implementing industry best practices for seafood supply chain due diligence and utilizing a holistic approach to improving seafood sustainability,” said Ethan Lucas, FishWise Project Director.
“It is fantastic to see a U.S. retailer digging into its tuna supply chains and making fishing vessel name information publicly available,” said Tom Pickerell, Executive Director of the Global Tuna Alliance. “This is a huge step for the U.S. retail market and fully aligned to our 5-year Strategy’s Traceability & Transparency work program.”
The tuna fishing vessel identification effort is part of an ongoing sustainable seafood program that began in 2011 when Hy-Vee and PDI partnered with FishWise to improve the environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and traceability of the company’s seafood supply chains. Through the partnership, Hy-Vee has maintained 100% compliance with its Seafood Procurement Policy, adopted a best-in-class Seafood Supplier Expectations and Code of Conduct Letter, and conducts regular supply chain improvement activities using its 2022-2025 Seafood Supply Chain Due Diligence Plan.
FishWise is a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy based in Santa Cruz, CA, that takes a holistic approach to sustainability to protect ocean health and workers’ rights. Offering expertise trusted by both labor and human rights and marine conservation organizations, seafood buyers and suppliers, and government representatives, FishWise offers a range of services that empower businesses and a diverse community of collaborators to lead the transition to a sustainable, ethically responsible seafood industry. Please visit FishWise.org and follow FishWise’s work on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for more information.
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of more than $13 billion annually. The supermarket chain is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise, and superior customer service. Hy-Vee ranks in the Top 5 Most Trusted Brands and has been named one of America’s Top 3 favorite grocery stores. The company’s more than 80,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit www.hy-vee.com.
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