Hy-Vee announced it is extending its Responsible Seafood program to include shelf-stable tuna, according to an article in The Shelby Report.
The retailer plans to not just ensure sustainable seafood is verifiable at retail, but also to better protect fishing areas and reduce by-catches, which often lead to inadvertent killing other species.
- Tuna will be traceable from point-of-catch all the way through to retail, and human rights will be assured all along the sea-to-store process.
Just last week, the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation reported that only 11 out of 19 of major tuna stocks are managed to prevent overfishing and restore depleted populations. While that report said much of that can be blamed on the regional fishery management organizations overseeing those areas, the companies that sell the tuna can use their own initiative to ensure traceability and sustainability.
Hy-Vee is already considered one of the more sustainable tuna brands, according to a ranking from Greenpeace that ranks it fifth in considering 14 brands. And the store's private-label brand is following food industrywide animal welfare trends. More consumers are paying attention to where their food comes from, and major tuna brands like Bumble Bee have already made similar sustainability commitments.
Bluefin tuna, particularly the Atlantic variety, are considered an endangered species by the World Wildlife Fund. Overfishing has caused their populations to decline precipitously in recent decades. Most Atlantic bluefins are taken from the Mediterranean Sea, the most important bluefin fishery in the world, the WWF says. While most commercial fishing operations play by internationally agreed rules on catch limits, some don't, and they are major contributors to population declines of 85%.
The situation is worse in the northern Pacific, where bluefin populations are down 96%, the Pew Research Group reported four years ago. And the long-term outlook, with many of the fish being caught being too young to have reproduced.
Companies committing to fishing responsibly might not be numerous enough to prevent some species, including bluefins, from becoming extinct. Groups like the WWF, the Marine Stewardship Council and FishWise need to step up efforts to get more support from retailers and their suppliers.