Alaska salmon fishery re-enters MSC assessment


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
July 4, 2012

The Alaska salmon fishery has formally re-entered Marine Stewardship Council assessment. The MSC received notice of a signed contract between the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association (PSVOA) and Intertek Moody Marine (IMM), the certification body that will conduct an independent, third-party assessment of the entire Alaska salmon fishery against the MSC standard.

If awarded, this will be the third five-year MSC certification for the fishery. The same geographical units, species and gear types of Alaska salmon will be included in the assessment. PSVOA has indicated it intends to make participation in the client group open to all and has said it will be sending out letters before the end of the month with certificate-sharing information.

The Alaska salmon fishery was one of the world’s first fisheries — as well as the world’s first salmon fishery and the first U.S. fishery — to obtain MSC certification in 2000. It was re-certified in 2007. However, eight major Alaska salmon processors in January announced they were phasing out financial support for the certification. Last year, the Alaska salmon fishery was awarded Responsible Fisheries Management Certification via an independent, third-party assessment conducted by Global Trust Certification Ltd. and based on the Food and Agriculture Organization Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which prompted the processors’ decision to move away from the MSC program.

However, in April, the PSVOA stepped up as the new client for the Alaska salmon fishery once it’s up for MSC re-certification in the fall.

The Alaska salmon fishery includes chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye salmon and is managed in 15 geographical management units by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Commission, under the U.S. Canadian Pacific Salmon Treaty. Salmon are harvested by purse seine, drift and set gillnet, and by trolling and fish wheel. The annual total catch of Alaska salmon was approximately 361,000 metric tons in 2011; pink accounted for about half of the harvest, followed by sockeye, chum, coho and chinook.

Alaska salmon products carrying the MSC eco-label are sold in 21 countries today. The majority of fresh and frozen products sold are to Asia, primarily China and Japan, while the remaining canned product is sold primarily in European countries and the United States.

“MSC certification of the Alaska salmon fishery has been a benefit to Alaska fishermen by helping to provide stable markets and prices to fishermen,” said Bob Kehoe, PSVOA executive director. “By restarting the assessment now, our intent is to avoid any potential interruption in the availability of the MSC eco-label for Alaska salmon.”

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