Sam’s Club Announce Enhanced Seafood Policy by Raising Standards in Tuna Supply Chains
At Walmart and Sam’s Club, our commitment is to help people save money and improve their lives. Our customers and members rely on us to provide products that are sourced in a more sustainable manner, including important seafood commodities that offer protein, nutrition, and livelihoods for millions of people worldwide.
Today, we are introducing stronger standards designed to enhance transparency and data collection in the tuna supply chain. These standards aim to address critical issues such as the unintentional capture of non-targeted species, illegal fishing practices, and the abandonment of fishing gear, all of which pose significant threats to ocean ecosystems. Our enhanced seafood policy applies to Walmart U.S., Walmart Canada, and Sam’s Club suppliers. Specifically, we are asking tuna suppliers to:
- Source exclusively from vessels that have 100% observer monitoring (electronic monitoring or human observers) by the year 2027.
- Source from fisheries that prohibit high seas transshipment unless the transshipment activity is covered by 100% observer monitoring (electronic monitoring or human coverage) by the year 2027.
Due to systemic problems like illegal and destructive fishing, more than one-third of the world’s fisheries are currently operating at unsustainable levels, as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In fact, a study conducted in 2019 revealed that these issues have put approximately 1 million animal and plant species at risk of extinction, including sharks, whales, and dolphins. The seafood sector finds itself at a critical juncture, and urgent action is necessary to address these challenges.
Our revised sourcing requirements are a result of collaborative efforts and a commitment to driving systemic change. Through our updated seafood policy, we aim to establish a resilient and transparent tuna supply chain that supports the well-being of both people and the planet. Mark Zimring, director of large-scale fisheries at The Nature Conservancy, one of our key partners, highlights the importance of detailed scientific data and compliance monitoring from fishing vessels to ensure ethical, legal, and sustainable seafood products. On-the-water monitoring plays a crucial role in achieving this.
Here’s why we are prioritizing these two issues:
- Observer Monitoring (Electronic Monitoring or Human Coverage): Observer programs, whether through human observers or electronic monitoring devices that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) technology, are valuable tools for fisheries management. They provide critical insights into commercial fishing activities, including the capture of non-targeted species. By leveraging data and increasing the coverage of fishing activities, observer programs enhance transparency and encourage responsible fishing practices. Michael Griff, director of seafood markets at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), acknowledges that implementing observer programs is a significant step in combating illegal fishing. WWF, a longstanding collaborator with Walmart, is eager to work alongside the tuna industry to leverage advances in electronic monitoring and related tools, fostering transparent supply chains for better outcomes for the ocean and people.
- Zero High Seas Transshipment Without Observer Monitoring: Transshipment involves transferring fish or fish products from one vessel to another, either at sea or in port. At-sea transshipment, in particular, hinders the collection of accurate seafood data and can facilitate illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing activities, posing risks to workers, consumers, and the environment. The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation emphasizes that the risk of undesirable activity is highest in high seas transshipment.
In addition to our goal of sourcing all Walmart and Sam’s Club shelf-stable private and national brand tuna from a Fishery Improvement Project or Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified source by 2025, these enhanced requirements will foster transparency, promote best practices, and drive continuous improvement by addressing systemic issues in the tuna supply chain.
This decade is pivotal for taking action, and we recognize the collective efforts of our associates, customers, suppliers, producers, and NGOs in driving progress. We remain committed to building upon this momentum and working together towards positive change.