Alaska salmon processors reaffirm MSC position


Steven Hedlund

Published on
May 20, 2012

In an open letter on Sunday, 27 Alaska salmon processors representing about 80 percent of the state’s salmon catch reaffirmed their intent to withdraw financial support from the Marine Stewardship Council program.

The announcement comes about a month after the Seattle-based Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association (PSVOA), which represents more than 400 vessel owners throughout the West Coast and Alaska, announced that it will serve as the client for Alaska’s salmon fishery once it’s up for MSC re-certification in the fall.

According to the 27 processors, reports that the same processors will be rejoining the program are incorrect.

“We have no intention of supporting MSC certification for salmon beyond the 2012 production,” reads the letter. “While we recognize that PSVOA has the right to become the client for MSC salmon, it should not be construed that we have changed our minds about this decision. We fully support the FAO-based Responsible Fisheries Management certification that has been developed for the industry by the Alaska seafood Marketing Institute and the state of Alaska. This fully accredited program responds to requests from many of our customers to provide a reasonable alternative to MSC certification.”

Among the executives who signed the letter are Joe Bundrant of Trident Seafoods, Dennis Guhlke of Icicle Seafoods, Mark Palmer of Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Barry Collier of Peter Pan Seafoods, Tomonobu Miki of North Pacific Seafoods and Jack Schultheis of Kwik’Pak Fisheries.

In January, the processors unveiled that they are phasing out financial support for the MSC program when the existing certificate for Alaska’s salmon fishery expires in late October.

The move is still making waves across the sustainable seafood community. Alaska salmon 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. The certification includes all five Pacific salmon species — sockeye, coho, chinook, chum and pink.

Last year, Alaska salmon 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.

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