Walmart backs GSSI, MSC, BAP in update to sourcing policy

Published on
February 24, 2017

Global retailing giant Walmart has added the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) to its list of trusted certification schemes in its latest seafood sourcing policy guide.

The new policy requires all Walmart’s and Sam’s Club outlets in North America and Brazil to source all fresh, frozen, farmed and wild seafood supplies from fisheries that are third-party certified as sustainable, as determined by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) or that follows FAO guidelines and is recognized by the GSSI.

“We are very pleased to see Walmart join the ranks of leading companies that committed to GSSI’s non-competitive approach to building confidence in seafood certification,” GSSI’s Program Director Herman Wisse said in a press release. “It is a major milestone towards our collective objective of more sustainable seafood for everyone and we encourage other companies to follow.”

Alternately, Walmart said its sourcing may be done from fisheries in a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) or Aquaculture Improvement Project (AIP) or actively working toward joining a FIP or AIP. In a press release, Walmart said it “aspires to help make choices easier and more transparent for people.”

“We serve hundreds of millions of customers every year, and we advocate for them among suppliers to provide more sustainably produced products while maintaining the low prices customers expect,” the company said. “We aspire to find our customers safe, affordable, and sustainable seafood that does not negatively affect global communities or the environment. Our goal is to build transparency and continuous improvement in the seafood supply chain so that we can build confidence and provide for our customers now and in the future.”

As part of its new directive, Walmart committed to offering its North American customers canned tuna caught without the use of fish-aggregating devices (FAD-free) by 2025 in the U.S. and by 2021 in Canada. In addition, by 2025, it will purchase tuna supplied exclusively from vendors “complying with International Sustainable Seafood Foundation (ISSF) sustainability conservation measures, including those adopted in collaboration with relevant tuna Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMO) and from vessels that are registered on the Pro-active Vessel Register (PVR).”

“Walmart believes the health of species, fisheries and ecosystems around the world is good for the planet and important to people today and in the future. We are working with our suppliers and partners to track the management of fisheries from which our suppliers source so that we can promote a sustainable supply,” the company said in its release.

Walmart’s updated policy also includes measures addressing labor stsandards for workers in its supply chain. It now requires all of its suppliers to comply by “Walmart’s Standards for Suppliers,” which sets requirements for the ethical treatment of workers, workplace safety and environmental responsibility. For seafood, Walmart clarified that its standards apply throughout the supply chain, including vessels, hatcheries, feed mills, farms, and final processing facilities.

Walmart said in its policy that it “expects its suppliers to be transparent,” making all facilities available for audit or inspection at any time.

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