MSC Backs Alaska Pollock Certification

The Alaska pollock fishery remains certified sustainable and well managed by the Marine Stewardship Council despite Greenpeace USA’s campaign to raise doubts about the fishery, the London nonprofit asserted yesterday.

Alaska pollock stocks are in a cyclical downturn, MSC says, which is natural in wild fish populations and in this case carefully studied by fishery scientists.

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council cut the 2008 Alaska pollock quota by 28 percent to 1 million metric tons. Government scientists last month urged a quota of 815,000 metric tons. Despite the cuts, MSC remains confident that Alaska pollock is sustainable.

“Commercial seafood buyers and consumers around the world who rely on MSC to provide assurance that they are sourcing sustainably caught seafood should be confident that the Alaska pollock fishery continues to be certified to the MSC’s widely accepted and rigorous scientific standard,” MSC says.

Greenpeace USA last week debuted TV ads in Alaska and Seattle calling for an end to overfishing in Alaska. The ad features a fisherman dressed in yellow slickers standing by a roadside carrying a sign that reads, “Unemployed. They over-fished pollock.”

The MSC certification program calls for independent, objective certifiers using teams of qualified scientists to assess the health of a fish stock, the impact of the fishery on the ecosystem and the management system that oversees the fishery.

The Alaska pollock fishery became MSC-certified in 2005. MSC says the fishery has a reputation as one of the world’s best-managed fisheries because of both its tracking and reaction to fish population fluctuations.

More than 140 fisheries are engaged in the MSC program with 38 certified, 86 under assessment and another 20 to 30 in confidential pre-assessment. Together the fisheries record an annual catch of more than 5 million tons of seafood. Worldwide, more than 1,900 seafood products bear the blue MSC eco-label.


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