AFDF volunteers to be MSC salmon client


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
January 13, 2010

The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) has offered to assume client responsibilities for Marine Stewardship Council sustainability recertification of Alaska salmon.

In a 4 January letter to members of the Alaska salmon industry, AFDF Executive Director James Browning said the group is “already familiar with the responsibilities of an MSC client and is fully prepared to take on the salmon task.”

AFDF is currently the MSC client for Alaska’s Pacific cod fishery and is working with Moody Marine International to finalize the harvest’s certification this month.

When the Alaska salmon fishery was originally certified as sustainable by the MSC in 2000, the client was the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the only government client for MSC-certified fisheries. ADF&G has said that, as a government agency, it does not benefit from the marketing opportunities that certification presents and has expressed the desire to transfer the role of client to an industry-based entity; it ceased fulfilling the role in October 2008.

Since then, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute was thought to be the frontrunner as a new client, and MSC approved of the switch. However, after voting provisionally to accept the role in October, ASMI’s board of directors last month deferred a final vote on the decision until its March meeting. Questions about equitable cost sharing and co-branding remain.

Browning said that some members of the industry are concerned that, without a client, certification for Alaska salmon might lapse, adding that AFDF officials have voted to accept the role of client if there was sufficient support by salmon companies pledging funding for the transition and continuation of the certification process.

“To address the salmon certification, AFDF will form a salmon industry working group to devise a cost-sharing mechanism that is equitable to all participants,” said Browning. “The cost-sharing mechanism will be based on production levels for primary processors and sales levels for re-processors and other participants. We will contact companies that have MSC chain-of-custody certification for salmon to invite participation, and the continuing MSC certification will be open to all participants willing to help support the costs of the program, which will cover all salmon legally caught in Alaska, regardless of region, gear type or species.

“Despite setbacks and confusion regarding the salmon client situation this year, there is widespread support at various levels of the supply chain to retain MSC certification of our salmon fishery,” added Browning.

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