First tribal fishery nets MSC certification
The Metlakatla Indian Community fishery, located in tribal waters surrounding the Annette Islands Reserve in Southeast Alaska, has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council certification. It is the first wholly native-owned and -operated fishery to earn the distinction, applying for MSC certification in November 2009.
The certification includes 12 units covering pink, chum, coho and king salmon using three gear types: gillnet, seine and troll. The fishery is managed by the Matlakatla Tribal Council in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Only Metlakatla tribal members can participate in the fishery.
The fish operates from May to October, and pink salmon represents the majority of the harvest at about 83 percent. The annual harvest has averaged 1.1 million salmon over the past 10 years, at a value at USD 1.3 million. The fish is sold primarily to European markets.
The fishery was certified with 22 improvement actions, which provide the trial community with tools and management strategies with which to further improve the fishery and salmon stocks.
“Our ancestors who came to Annette Island in 1887 were dedicated environmental stewards of the land and the sea and MSC certification confirms our commitment to preserve the legacy we inherited and manage the resource to sustain the fish stocks and our heritage for future Metlakatla generations,” said Karl Cook Jr., commercial fishermen and tribal member.
“The certification of the Annette Islands Reserve is a story of cultural heritage spanning two centuries and we are proud to be part of the story and the legacy that will be passed on to future Metlakatla generations,” said Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas regional director. “The responsible management demonstrated by the tribe will help sustain the fishery and Metlakatla community for generations to come.”
More than 100 fisheries are now MSC certified.