ASPA offers deal to salmon processors, with a catch

The Alaska Seafood Processors Association (ASPA) has announced it is allowing a collective of major Alaska salmon processors applying to join the certificate it holds with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), but they will have to cough up 3 percent of the wholesale price for this year’s product.

Rob Zuanich, ASPA’s executive director, has been firm about denying the processors’ applications for the past two months. When asked by SeafoodSource what changed his mind, he said, “Deference to Governor Walker.” Alaska Gov. Bill Walker recently issued a plea for ASPA and the processor applicants to work out their differences for the overall good of the industry and its impact on Alaska’s economy.

“This decision reinforces our support for the MSC standards and defers to Alaska Governor Walker’s request while also recognizing the resulting economic consequences,” Zuanich wrote in a statement yesterday announcing the move.

The list of processor applicants, led unofficially by Trident Seafoods, is growing, but so far also includes Alaska General Seafoods, Alaska Glacier Seafoods, Bering Pacific Seafoods, Big Creek Fisheries, Deep Sea Fisheries, Great Pacific Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Icy Straits, Kwikpak Fisheries, Leader Creek Fisheries, North Pacific Seafoods, Ocean Beauty, Pacific Seafood, Pavlov Fisheries, Peter Pan Seafoods, Snug Harbor Seafoods, Taku Fisheries, Triad Fisheries, and Yukon Gold Fisheries.

Both the processors, who applied to rejoin the certificate back in April, and ASPA have been deadlocked despite an effort last week by MSC leaders to mediate.

Until now, Zuanich has argued the processors, who initially withdrew from the MSC program in 2012, are only returning because they expect an unusually high salmon catch this year, and needed the MSC label to sell their salmon products abroad. In his statement, Zuanich revisited this argument, accusing the processors of costing ASPA members certification in 2013 of 45,000 metric tons in product. This, he wrote, is why ASPA is issuing the condition for readmission that the processors must pay ASPA an amount adding up to 3 percent of the first wholesale price of product they produce in 2015.

“ASPA recognizes this sudden transformation by the large processors to now associate with the MSC certificate is simply a short-term business decision,” ASPA said in its statement. “Their sole motivation is to quickly capture additional sales revenue and volumes recognizing their gains will results in commensurate losses to ASPA members.”

“ASPA is prepared to tolerate this tactic, but not reward it,” Zuanich said.


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