Responsible Choice Seafood

Why choose responsible seafood?

Certain types of seafood are overfished and/or are harvested in a manner that causes undue stress to the environment or other marine life. Our commitment to protect ocean resources is an integral part of our sustainability mission to do business in a manner that promotes the well-being of our customers, employees, communities, and the global environment.

When you purchase seafood that is responsibly farmed or harvested you are supporting best practices that will help to ensure a healthy supply of seafood for generations to come.


Low Mercury & Responsibly Harvested Seafood ListDECEMBER 2014

  • Bass, Striped farmed USA
  • Catfish farmed USA
  • Clams wild USA & farmed worldwide
  • Crab, King wild USA
  • Hake, Silver, Red, White & Offshore wild USA
  • Mussels farmed worldwide
  • Oysters farmed worldwide
  • Oysters, Eastern wild USA Gulf of Mexico & Canada
  • Pollock, Alaska wild USA
  • Salmon wild USA Pacific
  • Scallops wild USA & farmed worldwide
  • Smelt wild Lakes Superior, Michigan & Erie
  • Squid wild USA
  • Trout, Rainbow farmed USA

*These species contain the daily minimum of Omega-3 fatty acids per 3.5 oz serving.

For more information visit and

These fish are safe for ages 4 and up to eat at least 4 oz. per week, based on EPA standards and EDF compiled mercury testing data, and are either Best Choices or Good Alternatives according to Seafood Watch. Fish not on this list may be:

  • Inadequately tested
  • Irresponsibly harvested
  • Too high in mercury

The actual fish for sale has not been tested.

This information is provided through a collaborative effort between FishWise and Environmental Defense Fund. |



What is Sustainable Seafood?

Sustainable seafood comes from sources, whether fished or farmed, that can maintain or increase production in the long-term without jeopardizing the structure or function of affected ecosystems.

Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy
It is Hy-Vee’s intent to sell high-quality seafood that not only is safe for consumption but also is harvested or raised in a manner that provides for its long-term viability (sustainability) while minimizing damage to the environment and other sea life. View our Seafood Procurement Policy.

Responsible Sourcing Commitment
In order to protect marine resources and ensure future seafood supplies, Hy-Vee has committed to selling responsibly sourced fresh and frozen seafood that is rated as a Green ‘Best Choice’ or a Yellow ‘Good Alternative’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, certified to an environmental standard equivalent to these ratings, or sourced from credible, time-bound improvement projects. View the Responsible Sourcing Commitment press release.

Responsible Choice

Look for this symbol

Proud to Offer Responsible Choices
Seafood products bearing the "Responsible Choice" symbol meet Hy-Vee’s policy and are caught or farmed in a responsible manner. Specifically, these options are rated as either Green ‘Best Choices’ or Yellow ‘Good Alternatives’ by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, or are certified to an environmental standard benchmarked to at least these ratings.

How is Sustainability Assessed?
To make sustainable seafood recommendations, we draw from a variety of science-based sources such as peer-reviewed research, third party certifications, and color rankings generated by non-profit organizations. You can do your part to support healthy oceans by purchasing Hy-Vee's Responsible Choice seafood.

2015 Greenpeace Report
Greenpeace released its 2015 Carting Away the Oceans (CATO) report in July, ranking Hy-Vee at third out of the 25 largest supermarket chains in the United States. Since 2008, Greenpeace has evaluated and ranked supermarkets in the CATO report based on their efforts to protect both the oceans and seafood industry workers.

Hy-Vee moved up to the top three this year, finishing in the “good” category and scoring above a 7 out of 10 for the first time. Hy-Vee was evaluated on the sustainability of its seafood in four key areas: policy, initiatives, labeling and transparency, and Red List inventory. This is only the second year Hy-Vee has been included in the report.

Greenpeace writes: “After its 'Carting Away the Oceans' debut last year, Hy-Vee doubled down on its strong performance, coming in third place overall and entering the good category for the first time. Hy-Vee means business about sustainable seafood. … Hy-Vee dropped Chilean sea bass, issued a strong public statement against GMO seafood, is on track to hit its 2015 sustainability goals and twice weighed in at key moments to address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing in the industry by sending letters to Congress.”

Visit our Seafoodies blog for recipes and more information about seafood.

Wild Considerations

Impacts on Stock: Resilience to fishing pressure and population trends are reviewed to determine the level of impact on the target species’ stocks

Impacts on Other Species: The unintentional catch of non-target species like birds, turtles, dolphins, and other fish is considered along with these species’ population trends

Habitat and Ecosystem Impacts: Level of damage caused to the seafloor and broader ecosystem by the fishing method used

Management: Effectiveness of governance at ensuring a fishery’s viability

Farmed Considerations

Data: Quality and relevance of available data

Pollution, Habitat Impacts & Chemical Use: Handling farm wastes to prevent pollution, minimizing damage to surrounding habitats during farm construction, and minimizing the use of chemicals

Feed: Consumption of resources, such as wild fish and other protein, in feeds for the production of farmed fish

Escapes and Disease Transfer: Risk of fish escaping from farms and risk of diseases from farmed fish spreading to wild stocks, negatively impacting wild ecosystems

Source of Eggs/Larvae: Independence of eggs/larvae (seedstock) from wild fish stocks

Conservation Initiatives

Protection for the Bering Sea Canyons
The Bering Sea is an area of exceptional productivity, supporting an abundance of fishes, seabirds and marine mammals. Submarine canyons in the Bering Sea are home to deep-sea corals and sponges that provide important habitat for fish and other marine life. Hy-Vee is encouraging efforts to develop a Fishery Ecosystem Plan for the Bering Sea that includes the protection of the unique deep-sea habitats of the Zhemchung and Pribilof canyons.

Pledge to Protect the Ross Sea
The Ross Sea in Antarctica is the least altered marine ecosystem on Earth, supporting exceptional abundances of organisms such as krill, penguins, fishes, and marine mammals. Known as the ‘Last Ocean’, this prolific ecosystem was essentially untouched by humans until 1996, when commercial fishing began for the Antarctic toothfish, more commonly known as ‘Chilean seabass.’

In support of the creation of a marine protected area in one of the world's most isolated and pristine marine ecosystems, Hy-Vee has pledged not to buy Antarctic toothfish (also known as Chilean seabass) from the Ross Sea. Serving as wildlife parks in the ocean, marine protected areas are designated zones in the ocean where fishing activities are restricted or prohibited.

Pledge for GE-Free Seafood
Hy-Vee’s policy is to sell seafood that is safe for consumption and harvested or raised in a responsible manner. Hy-Vee will not purchase or sell genetically modified or genetically engineered seafood. We are confident this is the best decision for our customers as well as the environment.

Genetically modified and genetically engineered seafood products are inconsistent with Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy, which can be found here. Our commitment to not sell genetically engineered seafood is highlighted on the Friends of the Earth pledge website at

Legislation to address illegal fishing and human trafficking
In support of legal and traceable seafood in the United States, Hy-Vee sent letters to representatives in the House and Senate urging them to pass legislation that addresses illegal fishing and cracks down on human trafficking. This is an important step towards ensuring our U.S. seafood marketplace is composed of safe, legal and responsible seafood and that illegal fishing is reduced in the waters around the world.

Seafood Traceability & Transparency

Hy-Vee is working to improve transparency in seafood supply chains by ensuring that our products are traceable back to the point of harvest, be that a fishery or farming operation. To this end, Hy-Vee regularly collects information about the chain of custody and sustainability of seafood products from our suppliers. Hy-Vee’s seafood vendors have also been notified of our commitment to sustainability, traceability, and the importance of ensuring that seafood is harvested in compliance with management plans and all applicable regulations.


The goals of our Seafood Procurement Policy are to:

  • Protect our customers
  • Protect the environment
  • Provide the best quality and selection of seafood


To achieve our goals and ensure consistency with our policy Hy-Vee will:

  • Collaborate with FishWise, a California-based non- profit that works with companies throughout the seafood supply chain to support conservation through environmentally responsible business practices.
  • Work with our employees, suppliers, regulatory agencies, and other stakeholders to identify a broad selection of high quality, safe and sustainable seafood.
  • Continue to educate our buyers and employees about seafood quality, safety and sustainability.
  • Do business with only those suppliers whose practices are consistent with our policy.
  • Have our seafood routinely inspected at our distribution facility by a U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) Lot Inspector.

Hy-Vee’s Progress Towards its 2015 Responsible Sourcing Commitment

As of January 2015, 79% of Hy-Vee’s fresh and private label frozen seafood met the goal of being responsibly sourced and traceable or in a time-bound improvement process by year-end 2015 (see graph below). This is a 17% increase from when we made the pledge in January 2014.


Hy-Vee is one of the only retailers in the nation with our own USDC Lot Inspector.Several years ago, Hy-Vee became the first retailer in the nation to hire its own U.S. Department of Commerce lot inspector to ensure the quality, safety and integrity of the fresh seafood it buys. The USDC inspector is stationed onsite at the PDI distribution facility in Ankeny, Iowa, where he routinely checks incoming shipments of fresh seafood and rejects those that do not meet Hy-Vee's standards.

Hy-Vee Select Canned Tuna: A Sustainable and Healthy Choice

Canned tuna is one of the top three most consumed seafood products in the United States. In fact, each American ate an average of 2.4 pounds of canned tuna in 2012. Considering that tuna is a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3s, niacin, and vitamins, it’s not surprising that canned tuna is in such high demand. However, its popularity has also led to the decline of many tuna stocks in the world’s oceans. Some fishing methods used for tuna can also have negative impacts on other species in the ocean, such as sea turtles, sharks, and seabirds. Given these concerns, Hy-Vee recently unveiled two new Responsible Choice canned tuna products.

Hy-Vee Select Solid Light Tuna skipjack is caught from fisheries using pole and line catch methods. This traditional type of tuna fishing is highly selective, catching one fish at a time and producing very little bycatch.

Hy-Vee Select Solid White Albacore Tuna is caught using pole and troll gear, which are considered to be among the most selective and ocean-friendly methods for catching tuna. Pole and troll caught albacore also targets younger tuna that have lower levels of mercury than older fish caught on longlines. Because of its environmental and health benefits, albacore from pole and troll fisheries is rated as a Super Green source of seafood by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.

Fishery Improvement Projects

A fishery improvement project (FIP) is a multistakeholder effort to improve a particular aspect of a fishery. FIPs are an important component of Hy-Vee's Seafood Procurement Policy as they provide a direct pathway for Hy-Vee to encourage improvements on the water, be that through strengthening fisheries management policies or by providing incentives for fishers to reduce the environmental impacts of their fishing gear. To promote healthy oceans and ensure long-term seafood supplies, Hy-Vee is actively encouraging many of its seafood suppliers to participate in FIPs.

Hy-Vee and its suppliers are involved in improvement projects for the following species:

  • Swordfish
  • Wild shrimp
  • Snapper
  • Grouper
  • Blue swimming crab

What Can You Do to Help Save the Oceans?

  • Purchase seafood with Hy-Vee’s Responsible Choice label. The Responsible Choice label is backed by rigorous science and is our guarantee that the seafood you’re buying is not causing harm to the environment.
  • Do your own research. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website to learn more about the impacts fishing and aquaculture have on the environment.
  • Ask for information at restaurants. Asking a simple question like “Where does this fish come from?” alerts businesses that customers want sustainable seafood and expect seafood businesses to be informed.
  • Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. Plastic pollution also negatively affects the oceans so it’s important to make sure that waste is disposed of properly so it doesn’t end up in our waterways.


Safety, Quality, and Freshness: Our procurement practices are designed to ensure safety, quality, and freshness are of the highest priority.

Legal Compliance: Hy-Vee will never knowingly buy or sell seafood that has been harvested, transported, or otherwise handled in an illegal manner.

Supplier Integrity: We will do business only with suppliers of high ethical standards with a proven commitment to the quality, safety and sustainability of their seafood products.

Quality Information: The concept of seafood sustainability is complex. For this reason, Hy-Vee’s decisions on what constitutes sustainable seafood will be made based on fundamentally sound, high-quality data, science and research from a variety of credible sources.

Education and Communication: Hy-Vee will keep customers, employees, and stakeholders informed about our efforts to improve the sustainability and overall quality of our seafood supply.

Transparency: The traceability of our seafood supply chain will be transparent and readily available to our customers.

Labeling: Our seafood will be labeled with appropriate information to help customers make informed buying decisions. Look for a “Responsible Choice” label to identify seafood products that are responsibly sourced.

Partnership: Hy-Vee will work in partnership with its customers, suppliers, other retailers, and other interested stakeholders to continuously improve the sustainability of the seafood supply chain.

What is FishWise?

FishWise is a non-profit organization that promotes the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems through environmentally responsible business practices.

FishWise helps companies improve the sustainability of their seafood offerings via employee training, sourcing assistance, and point-of-sale information. Their programs allow consumers to make environmentally informed choices when purchasing seafood.

To learn more visit

Hy-Vee has added a Responsible Sourcing Commitment to its Seafood Procurement Policy, the latest step in Hy-Vee’s effort to improve the sustainability of its seafood. Read the press release.

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