WWF: Salmon’s MSC departure ‘disappointing’


James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
January 24, 2012

The Alaska salmon industry’s decision to not seek sustainability re-certification under the Marine Stewardship Council program is disappointing, said a veteran fisheries official with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“The Alaska salmon fishery’s decision to disengage from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification program — the most credible sustainability standard available — is disappointing,” said Bill Fox, VP of fisheries for the WWF, in an e-mail to SeaFood Business magazine.

WWF added that there are 19 conditions remaining under the current MSC certificate for Alaska salmon, which has been valid since 2000 and expires in October. WWF says those conditions will likely not be addressed under the Responsible Fisheries Management certification for Alaska salmon, the assessment for which will be conducted by Ireland-based Global Trust Certification. The certification scheme that Alaska salmon prefers is based on the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

The unmet conditions pertain to the impacts of hatchery salmon and related management practices on wild salmon, according to WWF.

“If these conditions are not met, consumers cannot be sure that the parts of the fishery that rely on hatcheries are not negatively impacting the long-term health and productivity of the wild salmon stock,” the group contended. Furthermore, WWF does not support “place of origin” certification programs like the Responsible Fisheries Management scheme.

“WWF’s global retail partners have made commitments to source fisheries that are MSC certified, and it is a shame to lose a major supplier of MSC certified salmon,” said Fox. “Other certification schemes simply do not compare. It is not too late for the Alaska salmon fishery to reconsider this decision so that they can enjoy the benefits of the globally recognized eco-label.”

It is yet unclear whether major seafood buyers in the United States or in Europe that require MSC certification for wild fisheries will accept products with an alternative ecolabel.

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