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Alaska salmon industry pulls out of MSC

18 Jan 2012
Alaska is North America's largest source of wild-caught salmon, which includes chinook. Credit: Zureks/Wiki

Alaska is North America's largest source of wild-caught salmon, which includes chinook. Credit: Zureks/Wiki

The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) has announced that eight major primary salmon processors are backing out of the Marine Stewardship Council certification programme in October.

According to a statement from James Browning, AFDF’s Executive Director, the companies will only support the MSC programme for Alaskan salmon until the current certification expires on 29 October 2012.

The eight processors include Trident Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, Alaska General Seafoods, E & E Foods, Kwikpak Fisheries and North Pacific Seafoods.

Clearly the level of industry support for certification has changed substantially since 2010, when AFDF became the client after finding virtuously unanimous support for retention of MSC certification for Alaska salmon. After receiving letters from the eight processors, the AFDF Board of Directors met on 16 January and was compelled to comply with the requests of its major clientship sponsors, meaning that Mr Browning will only proceed with those actions necessary to maintain the MSC certification of Alaska salmon until 29 October.

The companies’ reasons for announcing their pullout note that MSC certification has been welcome and valuable for more than a decade. However, the majority of these processors now feel it is time to redirect their resources toward a broader marketing message.

Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas Regional Director said in a statement, "We regret that the Alaska salmon fishery is being withdrawn from the assessment underway for a potential third certification period. While there are other sources of MSC-certified salmon, Alaska was an early and important leader in the program."

All Alaska salmon harvested during the 2012 fishing season will remain eligible to carry the MSC logo and be sold as certified as long as the participating entities maintain valid MSC Chain of Custody certification. However, the 2nd Recertification that AFDF has recently initiated with Intertek Moody Marine (IMM) would need to be completed in order to continue the MSC certification beyond 29 October 2012.

Alaska is North America's largest source of wild-caught salmon, and encompasses chinook, sockeye, pink, coho and chum caught in the state's coastal waters in harvests managed by the state Department of Fish and Game. The state salmon industry was an early participant in the MSC program with an initial certification in 2000 and a five-year recertification back in 2007.

Mr Browning said that it is important to note that the transition away from MSC certification of Alaska does not affect the ongoing MSC certification of Pacific cod in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands or the Gulf of Alaska.

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Alaska is North America's largest source of wild-caught salmon, which includes chinook. Credit: Zureks/Wiki

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