Crab Certification Audit Complete, as Crabbers Await Stock Survey Results

are down a bit, but demand remains strong, as harvesters of Alaska’s deadliest
catch, albeit multi-million dollar crab fishery await stock survey results that
will determine quotas for the 2013-2014 fishery.

Online marketers in Alaska like
FishEx, in Anchorage, were asking nearly $36 a pound in early August for frozen
giant king crab legs, nearly $49 a pound for Alaska king crab meat and $29.21 a
pound for split Alaska red king crab legs. 
Alaska snow crab, also known as opilio, was selling for $11 a pound, and
split red king crab legs for $37.46 a pound.

Negotiations with Japanese buyers of red king crab are
still weeks away and negotiations for opilio crab traditionally begin in
January, but some marketers of Alaska crab are meanwhile engaged in what they
describe as “ a big row” with Walmart over what they say are indications that
Walmart is showing a preference for Russian crab.

“The primary factor has been there have been some
treaties signed between Russia, Japan, Korea and China intended to deal with
illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities,” said Jake Jacobsen,
executive director for the Inter-cooperative Exchange in Seattle. “Those treaties were
signed, but not implemented, so there was a move to get as much landed as they
could before the treaties went into effect.” There are large quantities of snow crab and king crab from Russia this year and
it is illegal, unregulated and unreported crab,” he said.

“Alaska’s crab fisheries are some of the best
managed in the world,” said Tyson Fick, a spokesman for the Alaska Seafood
Marketing Institute.

“With all of the well-documented troubles the Russian
fisheries have had with illegal, unreported, and unregulated crab entering the
world market it is surprising that we would have Walmart saying they will
purchase crab from that fishery because it is supposedly defined as sustainable
because of a fisheries improvement project.  We will continue to rely on all
that Alaska has to offer, such as the strong reputation we have for
fisheries management and the highest quality
product,”  Fick said.

Walmart spokesman Christopher Schraeder denied that there
are efforts underway to purchase Russian crab over Alaskan crab. 

The company “has bought wild Alaska crab in the past and
will buy it this year,” Schraeder said.

WalMart announced back in February 2006 plans to purchase
all of its wild-caught fresh and frozen fish for U.S. markets from the Marine
Stewardship Council certified fisheries.

Schraeder notes that company policy requires that all
wild seafood suppliers be third-party certified as sustainable using Marine
Stewardship Council, Best Aquaculture Practices or equivalent standards.

But crab processors doing business in Alaska have chosen
to not use the MSC certification program.

Instead the Alaska’s Bering Sea and Aleutian Island blue
and red king crab and snow crab fisheries are certified sustainable by the
Global Trust program, which is facilitated by the Alaska Seafood Marketing
Institute. The Global Trust program is modeled on the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization based responsible fisheries management certification,
and for Alaska seafood is facilitated by ASMI.

On August 6, ASMI announced that the first annual audit
of Alaska Bering Sea and Aleutian Island blue and red king and snow crab
fisheries for responsible fisheries management certification had been