National Park Service Policy on Seafood Selection Questioned

 A National
Park Service announcement that said it would only allow the sale of fish deemed
sustainable by outside groups that do not currently recognize Alaska’s
fisheries as sustainable is drawing criticism from Sen. Lisa Murkowski,

said in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, General
Services Administration and National Park Service that while they are relying on
the Marine Stewardship Council and Monterey Bay Aquarium to determine
sustainability, government policy does provide leeway to permit “other
equivalent groups” to be tapped for this service.  Murkowski said she has asked for a meeting to
hear their explanation of how this policy was developed, “and to discuss how to
ensure that federal policy on sustainability clearly recognizes seafood
produced in Alaska.”

also noted that this federal policy is “directly inconsistent” with federal
guidelines that state “the government does not endorse any particular labeling
or documentation system or program over another.”

The National
Park Service recently introduced new sustainable food guidelines as part of its
Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative, requiring food service operators
within these parks to begin offering healthy food options and to incorporate
more sustainably sourced ingredients.

The Alaska
Constitution mandates that all fisheries in the state must be managed
sustainably. In addition, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in recent
years has offered its own third party sustainability program, a United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization-based Responsibility Fisheries Management
certification program, in an effort to assure that seafood from Alaska
certified as coming from sustainably managed fisheries maintains a clear Alaska
identity.  Seafood processors in Alaska
have earlier expressed concern over keeping buyers aware that their product has
not only come from sustainable fisheries but was wild caught in the pristine
waters of Alaska.