Alaska pollock fishery sticks by MSC, for now

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
January 18, 2012

Tuesday’s news that the Alaska salmon fishery is no longer pursuing Marine Stewardship Council re-certification will have no immediate impact on the Alaska pollock fishery.

“Alaska pollock isn’t at the same decision point that Alaska salmon producers face with their certification due to expire in October 2012,” Jim Gilmore, public affairs director for the Seattle-based At-Sea Processors Association, which serves as the MSC client for the Alaska pollock fishery, told SeafoodSource on Wednesday.

Alaska’s Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock fishery was re-certified as sustainable and well-managed under the MSC program in December 2010; it was one of the world’s first fisheries to earn MSC certification in 2005. The certification is valid through 2015. The Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery was also re-certified in 2010.

“Reassessment is an expensive, time consuming and lengthy process, so Alaska salmon producers had to decide now whether continued MSC participation made sense or not. I expect Alaska pollock to continue on in the MSC program for now and to re-evaluate our continued participation the closer we get to 2015,” said Gilmore.

“Alaska salmon producers had to weigh a number of factors in their decision, and one of those surely is the long-standing, institutionalized lack of responsiveness of the MSC to client fisheries’ concerns. Alaska pollock, and many other fishery clients, share Alaska salmon’s frustrations with the MSC program,” continued Gilmore.

“The MSC just doesn’t seem to get it that it is the fisheries that make the program work,” he said. “Hopefully, the situation with Alaska salmon will serve as a wake-up call to the MSC.”

After receiving letters from eight major Alaska salmon processors, the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) board met on Monday and decided to comply with the processors’ request to phase out financial support for MSC certification of Alaska salmon. AFDF, which had initiated the re-certification process with certifier Intertek Moody Marine in November, has served at the MSC client for the Alaska salmon fishery since February 2010.

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