Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute seeks feedback on responsible fisheries management standards

Published on
June 9, 2016

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is conducting its first full review of the standards for its groundbreaking responsible fisheries management (RFM) scheme since it was implemented in 2011.

ASMI initiated a 60-day public comment period on the standards, which were designed in alignment with the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (GSSI), on 6 June. The opportunity for stakeholders to provide ASMI comments on its standards runs through 4 August, according to ASMI Sustainability Director Susan Marks.

“We’re making a focused effort to do more to facilitate stakeholder conversations and act on the advice we receive,” Marks said. “In fact, stakeholders will see much of what we’ve changed in the RFM over last couple of years is reflective of the feedback we’ve received. So we do hope people take the time to read and comment the new version of the standards.”

Major changes to the RFM include the introduction of a numerical system as a scoring system and a modification of the evaluation parameters. Another major change introduces automatic assessment failure if certain violations are found, such as IUU activity, shark finning, dynamiting or other destructive fishing practices, the use of slavery or a significant lack of compliance with requirements of international fisheries agreements to which the United States is a signatory.

The new standards also address concerns that the RFM take into account the most recent standards and documentation provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), addressing another commonly heard complaint from the previous public comment period in 2011.

However, the bulk of the changes are minor in nature, seeking to increase the document’s clarity and transparency, Marks said.

“Mainly, it’s lot of housekeeping and streamlining,” she said. “We did a rewording of complex clauses to remove overlapping requirements and make everything clearer and more succinct.”

Marks said her organization is especially eager to receive feedback from environmental, sustainability and other nonprofit groups.

“This is the first time any organization has benchmarked with GSSI and we want to help it become a global tool that’s trusted and robust,” Marks said. “In order to do that, we need to have property scrutiny and oversight from outside of Alaska and particularly from the NGO community.”

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