Satellite Data Help Hy-Vee Better Understand Tuna Supply Chains – Seafoodies

Last year Hy-Vee collaborated with Chicken of the Sea and FishWise to follow a paper trail  from canned tuna products on our shelves down to the point of harvest. This year we took our efforts a step further by using satellite technology to learn where boats were fishing for the tuna that ends up on our shelves. Traceability exercises are critical for collecting seafood documentation up to the point of harvest and has been an annual due diligence exercise for Hy-Vee. By adding this additional layer of satellite data to our traceability verification efforts, we are able to confirm the use of vessel monitoring systems (VMS) in our supply chains, which contribute to stronger monitoring, regulatory oversight, and transparency.

Technological advancements allow us to see exactly where a boat has been fishing. We can see how long a boat has spent at sea and even identify different types behaviors–fishing efforts, transiting, at-sea transshipment, visiting port–all from looking at satellite tracks. The map below, created using Global Fishing Watch, shows some albacore tuna vessels fishing for Chicken of the Sea product during a six month period.

The purpose of this project was to understand Chicken of the Sea’s ability to identify, mitigate, and remediate human rights abuses in higher risk distant water fishing fleets. We looked specifically at Tawianese- and Chinese-flagged fishing vessels because boats from these countries are receiving increased scrutiny for possible human and labor rights issues by the US Customs and Border Protection Agency and other organizations.

Using Global Fishing Watch, we analyzed fishing boat behavior to identify potential transshipment events and determine how long each boat stayed away from port. We also compared Thai Union’s, parent company to Chicken of the Sea, Vessel Code of Conduct (VCoC) to Hy-Vee’s policy for at-sea transshipment .

Overall, Thai Union has a strong VCoC that addresses issues such as prohibiting recruitment fees, establishing minimum hours for rest, and setting criteria for maximum time spent at sea. Chicken of the Sea was quick to provide Hy-Vee with the requested company policies and product-specific data, demonstrating transparent supply chain practices.

“Hy-Vee prioritizes working with suppliers who are willing to participate and find value in important verification exercises like these,” said Isaac Wiese, vice president of procurement for Hy-Vee. “Chicken of the Sea shares our commitment to creating andsupporting tuna supply chains that are transparent and legal. We appreciate Chicken of the Sea’s continued willingness to partner with us on diving deeper into our tuna supply chains.”

Transparent, collaborative relationships with seafood suppliers are what allow Hy-Vee to ensure we’re providing our customers with seafood from sustainable, transparent supply chains.

“We believe traceability is the backbone of sustainability and take our commitment to ensuring safe and legal labor for all those in our supply chains very seriously,” said Roxanne Nanninga, director of sustainability for North America, Thai Union. “It is encouraging to work with Hy-Vee, a partner equally committed to this goal, to create a more transparent industry.”

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