The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has approved the Russian VA-Delta Western Kamchatka salmon fishery for its Fisheries Standard certification. The pink, chum and coho Pacific salmon acquired by the fishery can now bear the blue MSC ecolabel.
The newly certified fishery is located off the east coast of Russia in the western part of the Kamchatka Peninsula on the Sea of Okhotsk coast and the lower reaches of six large coastal rivers including Ozernaya, Koshegochek, Golygina, Opala, Kol, Vorovskaya. In 2015, 357 metric tons of pink salmon, 2,330 metric tons of chum salmon and 445 tons of coho salmon was hauled by the fishery.
Fishing represents the primary occupation many residents of the region, with seasonal workers usually arriving for the 3- to 5-monthlong fishing season between July and September.
"Salmon [also] exists as an important source of food for the region’s indigenous population – that’s why the long term sustainability of the fishery is…vital for local people, employment and economic development,” MSC said in a statement.
The certification includes two fishing companies, Vityaz-Avto and Delta, both founded in the late 1990s; the companies process and freeze catch at local sites before shipping it for market and for sale. Back in 2012, the group’s Ozernaya river sockeye salmon fishery was the first in Kamchatka to receive MSC certification.
“This assessment covers fisheries for most of salmon species in West Kamchatka thereby positioning the region and client group as champions of salmon certification in Russia," said Camiel Derichs, MSC regional director for Europe, in a press release. "The assessment shows that an increasing number of Russian fishing companies are embracing third party fishery certification programs like the MSC. We look forward to seeing MSC labelled products from this fishery on the market."
Fisheries in Kamchatka bring in 15 percent of the world’s wild salmon, second only to Alaska, MSC said.
"And unlike their Alaskan counterparts, Russian fisheries have not always been known for sustainable fishing. However, real progress is possible – it’s happening,” sustainability group Ocean Outcomes said regarding the Russian MSC certification.