Tuna Transparency: FishWise and Hy-Vee Improve Vessel-Level Data Capabilities

Santa Cruz, CA – For a third consecutive year, Hy-Vee Inc. and FishWise, a non-profit sustainable seafood consultancy, have publicly released data about the grocer’s tuna supply chains. In contrast to previous iterations of this transparency activity, the data is now being run through a powerful new FishWise risk assessment tool, the Vessel Risk Dashboard. The analytics on the Vessel Risk Dashboard provide Hy-Vee with greater insight than ever on how and where to engage its supply chain to address risks for illegal fishing activities and social issues.

Working closely with the participating suppliers, FishWise collected and verified data for the vessels supplying Hy-Vee’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. During the ten-month purchase period from January-October 2023, FishWise identified 2,149 handline vessels, 58 pole and line vessels, 16 purse seine vessels, four longline vessels, and 62 unconfirmed gear-type vessels (commercial fishing vessels small enough to be exempt from certain vessel identification requirements). FishWise then ran all vessels large enough to have verified identifiers through the Vessel Risk Dashboard.

Collecting and verifying vessel names is a critical step in revealing the complexity of tuna sourcing. The majority of tuna on the global market is harvested in remote ocean regions where illegal fishing and human and labor rights abuses can occur without detection.

“Our partnership with FishWise continues to provide us with very valuable information about our seafood supply chain, which we know makes a difference for our customers,” said Jason Pride, vice president of meat and seafood at Hy-Vee. “FishWise’s continued efforts, improvements, and insights around vessel name data consistently give us new information to explore as part of our seafood supply chain due diligence strategy.”

The development of a new application programming interface (API) integration with Global Fishing Watch enabled a leap in FishWise’s ability to process publicly available vessel data collected by the ocean monitoring organization. FishWise created the Vessel Risk Dashboard to process various aspects of the publicly available data set, including time spent at sea, AIS and VMS use, and potential vessel encounters, providing the partnership with brand-new insight into aspects of on-the-water vessel behavior.

“We are thrilled to see our data collection and verification enhancements immediately benefit Hy-Vee,” stated Alyssa Withrow, Project Manager at FishWise. “Year after year, our commitment to improving transparency and sustainability drives us to uncover new layers of information. With innovative tools like FishWise’s new Vessel Risk Dashboard, we can delve deeper into vessel behaviors at sea, empowering all FishWise market partners to make informed decisions that prioritize responsible sourcing and business practices. This collaboration continues to set a benchmark for the industry and demonstrate the power of partnership to create positive change in seafood supply chains.”

“This is exactly how we envisioned private businesses using Global Fishing Watch data,” said Anna Sanders, Product Development Director at Global Fishing Watch. “Seafood sustainability consultants like FishWise can operationalize our data, help their partners understand more about their vessels, and then provide actionable insight into where businesses can work to reduce risk in tuna supply chains.”

The tuna vessel transparency activity is part of Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice Seafood program that began in 2011 when Hy-Vee partnered with FishWise to improve the environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and traceability of the company’s seafood supply chains. Within the partnership, Hy-Vee has developed an internal Tuna Vessel Remediation Plan and Implementation Guide, maintained 100% sourcing compliance with its Seafood Procurement Policy, adopted a best-in-class Seafood Supplier Expectations and Code of Conduct Letter, and is implementing a Seafood Supply Chain Due Diligence Framework that reflects the growing legislative and consumer expectations for social responsibility, traceability, and environmental considerations throughout seafood supply chains.

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 www.FishWise.org.

Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 570 business units across nine 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 75,000 employees provide “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle” to customers every day. For additional information, visit www.hy-vee.com.