Alaska pollock fishery re-certified as sustainable

The Alaska Pollock fishery, the largest fishery in the United States and the largest sustainable fishery in the world, has been re-certified under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard.

One of the top five most consumed fish per capita in the United States, other primary markets for Alaska Pollock include Europe – in Germany it is the most consumed fish – and Japan. While Europe and the United States use the pollock fillets for dishes like fish and chips, fish tacos, fish sandwiches and fish sticks, Japan is known to use the fish in surimi and kamaboko products.

A recognized symbol for environmentally sustainable wild-caught seafood, the MSC Fisheries Standard has been obtained by the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska Pollock fisheries  since 2005.

“We are proud to be one of the 10 fisheries globally to be certified as meeting the MSC’s rigorous sustainability standard three times. Alaska Pollock continues to earn among the highest certification scores of any fishery in the MSC program. This re-certification reaffirms the Alaska Pollock industry’s continued leadership in responsible fishing,” said Jim Gilmore, a member of the At-sea Processors Association, the fishery client for the Alaska Pollock reassessment.

The new season for Alaska pollock is slated to begin on 20 January, with a 1.34 million metric ton annual quota set for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands per recommendations from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The quota is conservative, coming in at several thousand tons less than what could be sustainably harvest, according to federal fisheries scientists. Meanwhile, the Gulf of Alaska Pollock fishery is set at 257,872 metric tons, a 30 percent increase from the 2015 quota and still a sustainably safe amount to harvest.

“The fishery management system is known for its conservative management practices, so these quota increases indicate an exceptionally healthy Alaska Pollock fishery in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Seafood buyers and consumers can rest assured that Alaska Pollock is one of the world’s largest and most sustainable fisheries,” explained Pat Shanahan of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, the marketing trade association for Alaska Pollock.

Alaska pollock products can now bear the MSC blue ecolabel, which “will assure consumers that Alaska Pollock products can be traced back to a certified sustainable source,” said MSC.

"The MSC’s vision is for oceans to be teeming with life for future generations. Alaska Pollock has successfully created and maintained new markets, especially in the U.S. and Europe, over the past decade. We are extremely pleased to see this fishery succeed in the MSC process yet again,” concluded Brian Perkins, MSC regional director for the Americas.

MRAG Americas conducted the independent assessment of the fisheries. 


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