Seventy-five percent of Alaska's salmon packers
have decided to pull out of the Marine Stewardship Council's fisheries
certification program when the current agreement expires at the end of October.
Those processors are Trident, Icicle, Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan, Alaska General,
E-and-E, Kwikpak and North Pacific. The board of the Alaska Fisheries
Development Foundation concurred with the move on Monday. That organization has
been the MSC client since February 2010, after the Alaska Department of Fish
and Game pulled out as the client for the Alaska salmon catch.
In an announcement Tuesday, AFDF
Executive Director James Browning said his organization would continue to work
this year to ensure the 2012 Alaska
salmon harvest remains eligible to carry the MSC logo. In 2011 the MSC
certified 287,000 metric tons of Alaska
salmon, or 8.7-percent of all the fisheries the London-based organization
MSC certification had once been a
rare and valued indicator of a fishery's sustainability, but as more and more
fisheries became certified, the cachet has diminished, according to industry
watcher John Sackton of Seafood.com. He says in an editorial published
Wednesday that the certification became not so much a marketing advantage as
simply a price of entry into mainstream retail sales.
-- (Sackton MSC 1 :34 sec "The fact is that once
a great majority or a lot of fisheries are sustainable, the fact that you have
a sustainable seal or certificate is no longer a strategic marketing advantage.
And what the Alaskan producers have found is that they would be better off
spending their marketing money to promote the intrinsic values of Alaska salmon and the
product benefits. As ASMI Executive Director Ray Riutta said, ‘Alaska salmon has a lot
more things to offer than simply the fact that it's sustainable.'")
ASMI Executive Director Ray Riutta said
in an announcement that ASMI will provide third-party certification through the
Alaska FAO-based Responsible Fisheries Management program. FAO is the United
Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. ASMI spokesman Tyson Fick says the
cost for the program will not be passed on to producers.
According to a McDowell Group study
in 2008, MSC certification cost Fish and Game $2.7-million, with individual
processor costs ranging from $4,000 to $180,000. Fick says the cost today is
United Fishermen of Alaska president
Arni Thompson welcomed the announcement, saying it was in the best interest of