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    BJ’s Offering Sustainable Seafood

    Initiative aims for high-quality product while protecting natural resources

    BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. is implementing a sustainable seafood policy that will ensure that all seafood products sold in its locations come from seafood suppliers known to be sustainable or on track to meet sustainability standards by 2014. Together with such nonprofit organizations as Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), the Westborough, Mass.-based company is moving to safeguard the ocean’s natural resources while still providing consumers high-quality fish and seafood.

    To attain this goal, BJ’s is collaborating with new and existing suppliers to find and help implement methods that protect aquatic species and habitats. The company’s new seafood guidelines for wild-caught fish make sure that fish are caught legally and that suppliers stay within their catch quotas. Additionally, the guidelines encourage fisheries and suppliers to use recent technology that makes harvesting less destructive to other aquatic species, including dolphins and turtles, as well as minimizing damage to ocean habitats such as coral reefs.

    For farmed fish, suppliers must limit the use of chemicals, provide the fish with sufficient space to swim and introduce safeguards that prevent them from escaping or affecting wild fish. All of BJ’s seafood partners, fresh and frozen alike, must begin sourcing seafood in accordance with the retailer’s guidelines.

    “Our goal is to continue to provide safe, quality seafood at an excellent value for years to come and without compromise,” explained Scott Williams, manager of product development and quality assurance for BJ's, which operates 195 clubs and 107 gas stations in 15 eastern states. “As a large-volume buyer of seafood, it is BJ’s responsibility to help protect the oceans and waterways and have a minimal impact on the long-term health of our ecosystems.”

    BJ’s has already rolled out several quality improvements to its seafood program, including DNA testing on all fresh and frozen fish to ensure that customers are getting the species they’re paying for, and chemical-free seafood without such artificial ingredients as sodium tripolyphosphate, which is often used to retain water in shrimp, and shifting tilapia production to a modern farm that meets GAA standards. Further, all canned fish BJ’s carries must comply with International Sustainability Foundation (ISF) guidelines.

    “BJ”s sustainable seafood program is commendable, and is an important step in improving the health of global fisheries and ensuring seafood availability for future generations,” said Dick Jones, director of major buyer engagement for Honolulu-based SFP, adding that the organization would “assist [BJ’s] in evaluating and improving fisheries and fish farms by using the most current science and practices that are recognized as the best in the industry.”

    “Implementing a sustainable seafood program and encouraging responsible aquaculture positions BJ’s Wholesale Club as a leader in the retail industry,” said John Connelly, president of Washington-based NFI. “Sustainability programs like the one instituted by BJ’s … protect our ocean’s most precious resources and help ensure that consumers can enjoy nutritious, healthful fish for future generations.”

    BJ’s sells a house brand of seafood, including tilapia fillets, sea scallops, wild-caught sockeye salmon fillets and extra-large shrimp, under the Berkley & Jensen label.

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