Kerry Coughlin, Americas director for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), has resigned, a media spokesman confirmed today.

Communications Director Mike DeCesare, in a statement, confirmed Coughlin's resignation to SeafoodSource, and passed on a written comment from Coughlin.

"It has been a privilege to work with MSC and our many partners," Coughlin said. "The MSC program has experienced tremendous growth during my tenure and I expect will continue to expand in importance as a vital global link for members of the industry and marine conservation community seeking to ensure sustainability of the world's seafood resources."

Coughlin has clashed openly in the past with the Alaska seafood industry and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), which has heavily criticized the MSC in the past as pursuing a monopoly on certification.

The withering criticisms, which peaked in September when Alaska's U.S. Senators called a hearing to discuss the need for third-party certification programs from NGOs such as the MSC, prompted Coughlin, who was not invited to the hearing, to speak out in defense of the MSC.

In a lengthy open letter released to the media, Coughlin blasted the MSC's Alaska-based critics, accusing them of bias and acting out of "misinformation." Coughlin declined at the time to comment further on her letter.

More recently, the MSC came under fire again this week when four conservation groups filed an objection to the MSC's recertification of the Alaska fishery.

DeCesare did not respond to inquiries as to why Coughlin resigned, or who would serve in her place now and in the future, only saying, "She will continue to work with MSC on a consulting basis."

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