NFI sounds off on Greenpeace campaign

The National Fisheries Institute on Wednesday warned the media in an advisory that Greenpeace is once again ramping up its campaign demanding an end to overfishing of Alaska pollock, the world’s largest whitefish fishery.

Late last year, citing a National Marine Fisheries Service stock assessment, Greenpeace claimed that the Alaska pollock population dropped 50 percent from 2007 to 2008. The environmental activist organization said that the Bering Sea ecosystem may be at risk of collapsing if the 2009 Bering Sea pollock quota isn’t reduced. After the campaign was launched, the quota was cut from 1 million metric tons in 2008 to an all-time low of 815,000 metric tons this year.

Both NMFS and NFI refuted Greenpeace’s interpretation of the stock assessment and reiterated that the Alaska pollock population is healthy.

Additionally, Greenpeace aired TV ads in Alaska and Seattle featuring a fisherman dressed in yellow slickers standing on a roadside carrying a sign that read, “Unemployed. They over-fished pollock.”

Fearing that Greenpeace is about to rekindle its campaign, NFI cautioned journalists to scrutinize Greenpeace’s “reckless speculation” and to contact NMFS biologists, who conducted the stock assessments and can put them in perspective, with questions.

In its e-mail advisory, NFI listed the contact information for NMFS scientists Doug DeMaster, Jim Ianelli and Steve Murawski. NFI also included a chart with the biomass, acceptable biological catch and landings of Alaska pollock from 1990 to 2009.

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