Groups ask Europe to support MSC Alaska salmon


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
February 13, 2013

Several conservation groups in Canada and the U.S. are backing the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)’s ecolabel and certification program, by petitioning European salmon retailers to support MSC-certified fish caught in Alaska.

Groups including the Pacific Salmon Foundation, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, David Suzuki Foundation, Wild Fish Conservancy, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and Watershed Watch sent 200 letters to salmon retailers and NGOs throughout the E.U., asking them to support MSC-certified salmon over other salmon.

The move is the latest in an ongoing battle among Alaska fishermen, which began when a collection of major Alaska salmon processors stated publicly last year that they were not seeking MSC certification, and instead went with a different program created by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and Global Trust.

Opponents to the MSC program have argued that they don’t need to endure a rigorous assessment process to prove to their customers that their salmon is sustainably caught. Proponents, however, including the groups petitioning the retailers, say that the MSC program is the best way to tell how safely seafood is caught.

“We are supporting Alaskan fishermen’s courageous stand. Global Trust is not an ecolabel, nor does it assess fisheries based on rigorous sustainability criteria,” said Greg Taylor of the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Other organizations agreed, saying the MSC also holds fisheries who fish unsustainably responsible for correcting problems.

“The MSC Certification process provides managers and stakeholders with a market incentive to work together to achieve any necessary improvements over time,” said SkeenaWild Conservation Trust’s Executive Director Greg Knox. “Removing this incentive will force NGOs to engage directly with seafood retailers to ensure the necessary improvements are achieved.”  

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