negative impacts of fish farming, deforesta- tion, antibiotic use and biodiversity, and encourage sustainable practices such as main- taining water quality and reducing the spread of disease. These standards have been handed over to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), an independent nonprofit that imple- ments and manages farm-certification pro- grams. It is also responsible for working with independent hird-party auditors to certify farms that adopt the standards. The ASC now upholds the nvironmental and social stan- dards for farmed abalone, clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, pangasius (a type of catfish), salmon, tilapia nd freshwater trout (see “Sustainable farm-raised fish”). To verify that the seafood Costco provides to members is responsibly farmed, the company encourages its suppliers to become certified. To that end, the fish farms that supply Costco undergo an audit with the Institute for Marketecology (IMO), an independent auditor based in Switzerland. The IMO inspects the farms to
see how they are complying with WWF standards. When a farm meets all the certification
requirements, it receives a seal of approval
from the ASC.
development of global standards for shrimp
farming. The shrimp standards are expected
to be handed over to the ASC during the first
half of 2013.
Among the requirements that farmers
must meet are the following: Comply with all
applicable national and local laws and regulations; site farms in environmentally suitable
locations while conserving biodiversity and
important natural ecosystems;
develop and operate farms with
consideration for surrounding
communities; operate farms
with responsible labor practices;
manage shrimp health and welfare in a responsible manner;
manage broodstock (mature
stock used for breeding) origin
and selection and the effects of
stock management; use resources in an environmentally
efficient and responsible manner. (For the full list, go to the
“The process of
culture practices is
just getting started—
we all have a long
way to go.”
WWF’s website and search “standards.”)
Costco has been actively involved, work-
ing with the ASC to evaluate the organization’s
new certification process by field-testing the
standards on several farms in Thailand that
supply its Kirkland Signature shrimp.
And that is only the beginning.
“These are just the first steps,” says Tracy
Mauldin-Avery, Costco vice president and
general merchandising manager of corporate
foods. “The process of establishing aquaculture practices is just getting started—we all
have a long way to go.”
“Fifteen years ago, Costco made annual
food-safety audits mandatory,” notes Bill
Mardon, Costco’s general manager for seafood. “Ten years ago, social audits, to assure
fair wages and hiring practices, became mandatory as well. Today Costco is focusing its
efforts on sustainability.”
For the benefit of Costco members, the
farmers and the environment, Costco is in the
business of sustainability for the long haul. C
The WWF’s Shrimp Aquaculture Dialogues began in 2007 and have led to the
Tracy Schneider lives with her husband and
daughter in Washington state.
CHRIS A RUSNAK
Regal Springs Tilapia Group is the oldest
integrated tilapia producer in the world and
supplies all of Kirkland Signature’s frozen
tilapia loins. Since its founding, some 25 years
ago, Regal Springs has made a point of working with local farmers, and over the years it
has adopted social and food-safety practices
as they were introduced.
Early on, Regal Springs worked with the
World Wildlife Fund, on the steering committee, to create the standards for growing
tilapia, says Francisco Murillo, chief business
development officer of Regal Springs. And the
company has been at the forefront of compliance as well.
“We were the first of the tilapia production companies to adopt and implement ASC
environmental standards—and to be audited
by a third party,” Murillo says.
Sustainability is fundamental to Norway’s
Hofseth AS, one of the suppliers of Kirkland
Signature frozen salmon fillets.
“There are strict government controls
on farming fish,” says CEO Geir Håberg. The
density of the cages, for example, is highly
regulated—only 2.5 percent biomass (
biological material from living organisms, most often
referring to plants) is allowed—and there are
huge penalties for going over that amount.
In Norway, most information is public. As
a result, the entire history of any salmon is
available for general viewing in the public
records. Every fish is fully traceable, from its
beginning in the hatchery, to its early phase in
fresh water, to its maturation in salt water.
“You can go all the way back to the
mother and the father of the salmon,” says
Identifying reliable processors
ARMED WITH thermometers and a few
pairs of watchful eyes, the seafood team
can determine within two to four hours if a
processor—whether it's in Vietnam,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Guatemala,
Nicaragua or Ecuador—will meet Costco’s
exacting standards. “Freshness,” says
team leader Ken Kimble, “has a direct relationship with time and temperature.”
The team is looking for more than basic
cleanliness. They observe the state of the
shrimp as it arrives at the processor. They
take its temperature. They ask questions.
How long has the shrimp been on the truck?
What is the ice-to-shrimp ratio?
Ken Kimble (far right) examines the
latest shrimp harvest at one
of the farms in Thailand.
Then they watch the production
line. Is the catch quickly processed or
left to wait in tubs on the floor? They
observe the various steps: dehead-
ing, peeling and rinsing, devein-
ing, cooking. Does the team
identify deviations in quality?
“Controls have to be in place
so that, if there is a problem, the
product can be pulled off the pro-
duction line,” says Ken.—TS
MARCH 2013 ;e Costco Connection 87
3/13/13 11:06 AM