Alaska fishermen back ASMI as MSC client

By

SeafoodSource staff

Published on
November 24, 2009

United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) announced on Monday that it will support the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's bid to assume client responsibilities for Marine Stewardship Council assessment and certification of Alaska's salmon fishery.

Early last month, the ASMI board voted provisionally to become the client; final action is expected at its December meeting. ASMI would take over for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, which sponsored the initial certification.

The state agency argued that it's the only fishery management agency serving as an MSC client and therefore does not benefit from the market penetration MSC-labeled seafood products enjoy. The MSC will allow the switch.

In a unanimous vote at last week's board meeting, UFA supported the switch, contingent on six conditions: the Alaska brand is protected by allowing use of the ASMI logo on all Alaska seafood regardless of whether it includes the MSC logo and is promoted by continuing an independent ASMI certification of sustainability; the MSC certification program remains "cost neutral" for ASMI with the primary costs of certification paid by MSC logo licensing fees; MSC certification "conditions" do not require substantial changes to Alaska's current fisheries management; the MSC maintains consistent certification standards; the MSC aggressively defends its brand; and the MSC refrains from certifying farmed salmon.

"UFA support for the ASMI/MSC relationship was one of the big issues at the semi-annual UFA board meeting," said UFA Executive Director Mark Vinsel.

Addressing the UFA board were ASMI Executive Director Ray Riutta, ASMI Chairman Joe Bundrant and Chris Ninnes, deputy CEO of the MSC.

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