Group steps up as MSC client for Alaska salmon

The Seattle-based Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association (PSVOA) — which represents more than 400 vessel owners throughout the West Coast and Alaska — late Friday announced that it will serve as the client for the Alaska salmon fishery once it’s up for Marine Stewardship Council re-certification in the fall.

In January, eight major Alaska salmon processors — including Trident Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods and Ocean Beauty Seafoods — unveiled that they are phasing out financial support for MSC certification of the Alaska salmon fishery when the existing certificate expires in late October — a move that’s still reverberating across the sustainable seafood community worldwide. The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) currently serves as the client.

Since then, the PSVOA has been contacted by “a number of processors” who seek to maintain MSC certification of the Alaska salmon fishery, said Bob Kehoe, the association’s executive director. 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 MSC program brought sustainability to the forefront, reinforcing 50 years of responsible State salmon management and the unique qualities of wild Alaska salmon. Fishermen are receiving higher prices for their catch and proof of sustainability has been a contributing factor,” said Kehoe.

“We are optimistic that by restarting the certification now we can avoid any interruption in the availability of the MSC label,” he added. “The MSC is the trademark for sustainability in many salmon markets, especially Europe.”

The MSC applauded the PSVOA’s decision. “The Marine Stewardship Council welcomes continuing partnership with Alaska salmon fishermen and processing companies and appreciates the willingness of the PSVOA to serve as the client organization for the whole of the Alaska fishery,” said Kerry Coughlin, MSC regional director for the Americas. “Our many commercial partners who appreciate providing MSC certified Alaska salmon to their customers will be pleased at this decision to re-activate the assessment with the intention of continuing MSC certification of the Alaska salmon fishery.”

Coughlin added that the MSC looks forward to officially announcing the reactivated re-assessment of the Alaska salmon fishery once the official documents are received, which is expected in the next few days.

For more MSC-Alaska salmon news, check out SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Chrsitine Blank’s interview with Ray Riutta, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute > 


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