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Following on a public commitment made earlier this year by parent company Supervalu, Shaw’s Supermarkets is introducing a seafood sustainability program featuring fresh case products certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) .Additionally, West Bridgewater, Mass.-based Shaw’s will provide fresh product verified through the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), a nonprofit marine science center. Shaw’s is the first New England-based retailer to carry fresh product certified by the MSC.
The grocer worked closely with the MSC and GMRI, as well as North Coast Seafood, the chain’s only seafood supplier, to develop the new program. Among the initial MSC-certified product offerings are wild sockeye salmon, wild king salmon, wild Coho salmon, wild Alaskan halibut, Pacific frozen-at-sea cod, Canadian frozen-at-sea flounder, Icelandic fresh haddock and Canadian fresh haddock. Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested products will include lobster, northern shrimp, cod, haddock, sea scallops and pollock. Further fresh seafood items will be offered as the program expands over time.
“A key element to providing high-quality seafood is ensuring the health of the fisheries that sustain those products,” explained Mike Stigers, president of Shaw’s, which operates 169 Shaw’s, Osco and Star Market stores in five New England states, employing about 21,000 associates. “By sourcing from sustainable fisheries, Shaw’s can provide our customers the confidence of knowing they are buying seafood from viable sources, with the added value they are also helping sustain seafood supply for generations to come.”
Added Kerry Coughlin, regional director, Americas at the London-based MSC: “Shaw’s commitment to MSC certified sustainable seafood is an example of leadership at the retail level that will have a ripple effect throughout the industry. By taking this step, Shaw’s will offer customers seafood that can be traced from the Shaw’s fresh case directly back to an MSC certified fishery, thereby supporting sustainable fisheries and the communities and livelihoods that are tied directly to the sea.”
As part of the sustainability initiative, Shaw’s will have experts in all of its stores to help answer consumer questions and continue implementing the program. The division’s seafood experts have collectively undergone 4,500 hours of training on seafood sustainability to prepare for the initiative.
“The Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested program differentiates seafood products from the Gulf of Maine region that meet important criteria around sustainability and traceability,” noted Jen Levin, sustainable seafood program manager at Portland-based GMRI. “It empowers consumers to feel good about their seafood purchases and support the long-term health of the region’s fisheries and fishing communities.”
In May, Minneapolis-based Supervalu pledged to source 100 percent of its top-20 wild-caught seafood products from MSC-certified sustainable fisheries or those on a clear pathway to sustainability by 2015 through a WWF Fishery Improvement Project.