Sakhalin Pink Salmon Fishery Enters MSC Assessment

The Sakhalin Island trap net pink salmon fishery announced this week that it has entered the full assessment phase of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification process. After more than two years of preparatory work, 11 fishing companies that annually harvest up to 21,000 metric tons of pink salmon have stepped forward.

“Entering full MSC assessment is an affirmation of our concerted efforts to conserve and sustainably manage Russia’s wild salmon resources,” said Vladimir Smirnov, head of Plavnik Co., one of the commercial fishing companies entering the program.

Howard Johnson, Global Programs Director of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, added, “MSC is the key to unlocking global markets for Sakhalin’s salmon fisheries. The MSC certification is becoming a ‘must-have’ for fisheries selling their products globally.”

“The MSC certification program is the gold standard eco-label for commercial fisheries worldwide and will provide significant market advantages for Sakhalin’s fisheries that are awarded the label”, said Sergei Didenko of the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Center, one of the co-clients of the MSC assessment.

In September 2009, the Iturup Island pink and chum fishery (part of Sakhalin Oblast) became the first Russian fishery – and the first salmon fishery since Alaska – to receive the MSC certification.

“The MSC full assessment on Sakhalin points to a growing wave of interest in Russia to promote sustainable fisheries,” said Brian Caouette, Director of Sustainable Fisheries and Markets Program at the Wild Salmon Center.

The certification body, MRAG Americas, will conduct the full assessment with hopes of completion by late 2011.

The 600-mile long Sakhalin Island is located at the far eastern end of Russia, between the Tatar Strait and the Sea of Okhotsk, north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, and represents 20 percent of global Pacific salmon stocks.

This project is supported by the Walton Family Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Resources Legacy Fund and the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company.