ASMI Program Gains Edge in Seafood Certification

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute announced April 16
that about 80 percent of Alaska’s 2013 wild salmon harvest will be certified by
Global Trust, an Ireland-based third party certification program. A limited
supply of Marine Stewardship Council certified Alaska salmon might also become
available, pending completion of the MSC assessment process estimated to be
finished in July, according to ASMI.
Alaska salmon was first certified as sustainable by MSC back
in September 2000, and recertified in November 2007, according to the MSC
Since then, said ASMI’s Tyson Fick, a number of suppliers
backed out of that program. The whole fishery will be certified under the
Global Trust’s United Nationals FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) based
Responsible Fisheries Management Program. In order to make the certified claim,
however, a supplier must have chain of custody verified as is required by the
FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, he said.
Joe Bundrant, board chairman of ASMI and executive vice
president of Trident Seafoods, said ASMI’s dedication to sustainability
predates any eco-label. “In fact, Alaska is the only state in the US to have it
written into its constitution,” he said.
One veteran processor, speaking on condition of anonymity,
said that more than a decade ago, when Alaska first opted for MSC certification
of salmon, MSC was a fledging entity that thought it could develop a business
by certifying fisheries. Major processors saw this certification as a great
marketing tool, the processor said.
The downside, said the processor, is that third party
certification makes the certifier the decider on the credibility of the
Instead, he said, seafood providers should educate their
customers on the state’s constitutional mandate of sustainability.
ASMI’s RFM model, nonetheless, has strong support from
United Fishermen of Alaska, the Juneau-based trade association that represents
37 fisheries organizations statewide.