Alaska salmon industry bails on MSC

Here's statement just in from the Marine Stewardship Council:

Jan. 17, 2012

MSC statement regarding Alaska salmon

The Marine Stewardship Council has been informed by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, the organization that serves as the client for the Alaska salmon fishery, that it is withdrawing the fishery from assessment toward a possible third five-year certification.

The existing MSC certification runs until Oct. 29, and any Alaska salmon caught prior to that date may be sold as MSC-certified.

Kerry Coughlin, MSC Americas regional director, said: "We regret that the Alaska salmon fishery is being withdrawn from the assessment under way for a potential third certification period. While there are other sources of MSC-certified salmon, Alaska was an early and important leader in the MSC program. We hope that this fishery will re-enter assessment, maintain the market advantage of MSC certification, and continue to showcase their sustainability.

"The number of fisheries and supply chain companies using the MSC program continues to expand worldwide, and consumer appreciation for the MSC ecolabel on products is increasing. MSC remains the recognized global standard by which fisheries confirm they are meeting or improving to global best practice in sustainable fishing as established by a wide consensus of scientists, industry experts and conservation organizations. By demanding a scientifically rigorous, transparent certification process using truly independent, third-party assessments, seafood markets around the world are helping to protect our ocean resources as well as seafood-related jobs and livelihoods now and for the future."

The third assessment was announced by the Alaska salmon fishery on Nov. 18. A certifier had been engaged by AFDF, the first site visit in the assessment process had been scheduled for later this month in Alaska and a number of conservation organizations had registered as stakeholders. The fishery, first certified in 2000 and recertified in 2007, includes Chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye salmon throughout Alaska waters. It does not include the tribally managed Annette Islands Reserve salmon fishery in southeast Alaska, which continues in the program and holds its own separate MSC certification.

Certificates for all other MSC-certified species in Alaska are also unaffected by the change in status for the state-managed Alaska salmon assessment.