Walmart Canada announces sustainable seafood policy

MISSISSAUGA, ON, April 13 /CNW/ - Walmart Canada announced today its commitment to bring only sustainably-sourced frozen, wild and farmed fish to its customers by 2013. The initiative supports the company's long-term sustainability goal to sell products that sustain people and the environment.

Walmart Canada's new Sustainable Seafood Policy will cover all frozen, wild and farmed fish. The company aims to source wild-caught fresh and frozen fish certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard or the minimum equivalent; to ensure farm-raised fish suppliers adhere to Best Aquaculture Practices, or the minimum equivalent; and to source canned tuna from an International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) member.

The company plans to phase out any suppliers procuring frozen, wild and farmed fish from unreported or unregulated sources.

"We're taking a first step to help sustain the future of fish," said Sam Silvestro, divisional merchandise manager at Walmart Canada. "We believe that by offering sustainably-harvested fish at affordable prices we can help improve the industry overall."

During the past 50 years, it is estimated that demand for seafood has increased five-fold and that three-quarters of the world's fisheries are being fished at or beyond sustainable limits. It is estimated that only 10 per cent of large ocean fish like tuna and halibut still exist. In addition, an estimated one billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein and 200 million people rely on the industry as their main source of income.

Walmart Canada outlined its Sustainable Seafood Policy to suppliers last month at a meeting at the company's home office. Over the coming months, the company will work with suppliers of frozen, wild and farmed fish, as well as MSC, to assess the sustainability of the company's current fish assortment.

Over the longer-term, the company will work with these suppliers on product labeling to ensure they are properly representing the type of fish in their frozen and fresh products, and to help them make their operations and supply chain more sustainable. The policy is expected to evolve over time and suppliers will receive regular communication from the company. The company is also working with non-governmental organizations, such as MSC, to look at ways to change the larger seafood marketplace.

"MSC is pleased Walmart Canada is announcing a new Sustainable Seafood Policy and looking to source wild-caught fresh and frozen fish that is MSC-certified," said Kerry Coughlin, MSC regional director for the Americas. "We applaud Walmart Canada on this move and their efforts to conserve the marine environment and ensure seafood is available for future generations."

Walmart globally is committed to more sustainable seafood. The company's U.S. business is already collaborating with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and the Alaskan salmon industry for wild caught seafood and with Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) for all farmed seafood. Together, they are encouraging seafood suppliers to strengthen fishery management practices, rebuild stocks, reduce environmental impacts and support broader marine ecosystem management and protection efforts. Walmart in the U.S. currently has 28 products in its stores that carry the MSC certification and they are continuing to expand the selections. In the future, the company hopes to replicate the progress it has made in North America on a broader, international scale.

About the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

The MSC is an international non-profit organization set up to promote solutions to the problem of overfishing. The MSC runs the only certification and eco-labeling program for wild-capture fisheries consistent with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards and the United Nations FAO guidelines for fisheries certification. The FAO "Guidelines for the Eco-labeling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries" require that credible fishery certification and eco-labeling programs include: Objective, third-party fishery assessment utilizing scientific evidence; Transparent processes with built-in stakeholder consultation and objection procedures; Standards based on the sustainability of target species, ecosystems and management practices.

The MSC has offices in London, Seattle, Tokyo, Sydney, The Hague, Edinburgh, Berlin, Cape Town and Paris.

In total, more than 185 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program with 69 certified and 121 under full assessment. Another 40 to 50 fisheries are in confidential pre-assessment. Together, fisheries already certified or under full assessment record annual catches of close to seven million metric tons of seafood, representing more than 12 percent of global capture production for direct human consumption. The fisheries already certified catch nearly four million metric tons of seafood - more than seven percent of the total global capture production for direct human consumption. Worldwide, more than 3,800 seafood products, which can be traced back to the certified sustainable fisheries, bear the blue MSC eco-label. For more information, visit

About Walmart Canada

Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Walmart Canada operates 317 retail outlets nationwide and serves more than one million customers daily. The company's vision is to demonstrate environmental leadership by reducing the ecological impact of its operations through company-wide programs focused on waste, energy and products, as well as outreach programs that preserve and enhance local environments. Walmart's global goal is to generate zero waste, to be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy and to sell products that sustain people and the environment.

For further information: Karin Campbell, manager of corporate affairs, Walmart Canada, (905) 821-2111 x4042