ASMI Clarifies Its Stand on MSC Certification

The majority of processors of Alaska salmon, 27 companies in all, won’t be selling Marine Stewardship Council certified salmon even though they have earned MSC certification, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute said Oct. 14.

This means more than 80 percent of the Alaska wild salmon supply will not carry the MSC eco-label, said Michael Cerne, executive director of ASMI.

“It’s important that buyers understand and not be confused by the recent Alaska salmon MSC certification announcement,” Cerne said. “The Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association is the MSC client for Alaska salmon, but this means that even though a portion of the fishery is MSC certified, only about 20 percent of the salmon harvest could be called out as MSC certified.

“The announcement of MSC certification of Alaska salmon should not be interpreted as a change in the decision by the dozens of companies who no longer sell and support MSC Alaska salmon,” he said.

Sustainability of Alaska fisheries is mandated by the state’s constitution. While many companies involved in Alaska fisheries initially participated in the London-based MSC certification program, concerns arose over costs of the MSC certification program and whether the Alaska brand for wild salmon and more of the state’s seafood would become indistinguishable among other MSC certified seafood.

This concern prompted ASMI to sponsor a sustainability certification program that meets criteria of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. To date Alaska’s salmon, pollock, black cod/sablefish, halibut, cod and king and snow crab fisheries are RFM certified and the Alaska flatfish fishery is currently under assessment.