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Wegmans Bolsters Sustainable Seafood Program

Wegmans Food Markets has added an additional step to the Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) in which it takes part. Partners in various FIPs are now asked to provide six-month updates, which Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans is publishing to its website for customers to access.

FIPs are collaborations of fishery stakeholders, among them retailers, suppliers, scientists, government, nongovernmental agencies (NGOs) and fishermen, who develop and implement plans to improve various aspects of the seafood industry.

"We rely on scientists and data to help us decide how and where to responsibly source our seafood," said Wegmans VP of Seafood Sustainability Carl Salamone, "and sometimes that information tells us that a particular fishery just isn't healthy. Whether it's been overfished or damaging gear is being used, or perhaps the fishermen simply aren’t keeping track of their catch, the fishery is in danger. But the answer isn't to turn our backs. Individuals, families, other businesses and entire communities sometimes rely on the continued success of a fishery. We think FIPs are part of the solution – a way to preserve and even improve a challenging situation while working with our valued suppliers."

Wegmans Ensuring Accountability

Scientists at the Honolulu, Hawaii-based Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), with which Wegmans works, evaluate fisheries around the world and maintain a database of current information. Retailers can then use the information to make responsible sourcing decisions to help protect the biomass of the species they sell. Wegmans also works with Seattle-based Trace Register to verify every shipment that arrives at the grocer’s docks.

"We want to know that our specifications have been met," noted Salamone. "Where it was caught, what species it is, the scientific name, how long it's been out of the water, etc."

Status reporting is written into most FIPs, with measurement against goals employed to determine future activities within the project. Wegmans opted to make an official request to all FIP participants to submit written updates in June and January of each year.

"Regular updates keep every participant accountable for progress," explained Salamone, "and sharing the information adds transparency to our program. We are proud of our seafood, and we want our customers to know about it."

Family-owned Wegmans operates 86 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.

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