Darden's origins trace back to the first Red Lobster restaurant that opened in 1968 and, today, we are one of the largest purchasers of seafood in the United States. In fact, seafood is the single largest item in Darden's overall 'food basket,' making up more than 20% of the total food we buy. We have a vested interest in ensuring that the supply of seafood on which we rely remains available, affordable and meets the quality and safety standards we expect. Clearly, no single entity can solve the challenge of creating and supporting sustainable fisheries alone, but Darden is firmly committed to working with others to be a catalyst for positive change.
In FY2011, Darden announced a commitment to rebuilding troubled fisheries through three targeted Fishery Improvement Projects. The commitment is part of Darden's membership in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and was recognized by CGI as an exemplary approach to addressing environmental challenges. The initial FIP was launched in partnership with Publix Super Markets and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The focus is to support the rebuilding of commercial reef fish fisheries, primarily grouper and red snapper, using several tools including the development of data collection methods to enhance management, testing different gear types to reduce interactions with sea turtles, and building new markets for the fish as populations recover. In FY2013, Darden announced its second FIP commitment, this one involving the Honduras Spiny Lobster Fishery. We are collaborating on this effort with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, creating a Fishery Improvement Fund for Honduras and beyond.
In FY2009, Darden helped launch the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with fisherman, processors, buyers, government agencies and other stakeholders to preserve and enhance a viable, strong and sustainable lobster industry. Darden provided $200,000 in seed money, and continues to play an active role in the organization. (see www.lobstersustainability.ca)
We are continuing to work with our aquaculture suppliers to help them implement the GAA "best aquaculture practices" standards. Darden regularly evaluates our purchasing practices to ensure they support and encourage sustainable fisheries. In partnership with the New England Aquarium, we maintain and regularly update a list of wild harvest species that we do not buy due to overfishing or mismanagement. We have also committed to require that all aquaculture species be certified to Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) standards, as they become available. By FY2013, we were working with our suppliers to implement GAA standards for four species, including catfish and salmon.