Wal-Mart Comments on its Fish Buying Practices

A spokesman
for Wal-Mart says the retail giant has sourced salmon
from Alaska for many years and wants to continue to source quality seafood for
years to come, while ensuring sustainable seafood is available to future

“That’s why
we have been and will continue to be engaged in open and transparent dialogue
with Alaska fisheries, suppliers, NGOs, industry experts and government to work
toward a solution,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Chris Schraeder, in his response
July 22 to an inquiry regarding Wal-Mart’s preference for a stamp of approval
from the London-based Marine Stewardship Council for Alaska fish.

“We work with
Marine Stewardship Council, recognized as the global standard for sustainable
fishery management, to make sure fisheries are certified, and we also work with
fisheries that are not currently certified, but are making progress toward
better fishery management through a public fishery improvement project,”
Schraeder said. “Today roughly 69 percent of the wild fish we purchase and sell
in the U.S. comes from fisheries either MSC certified or under assessment.”

comments prompted Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing
Institute, to say that Alaska’s salmon fishery has been held up as a great
example of fisheries management for decades before pay-to-play sustainability
ecolabels came into being.

“Nothing has
changed since most companies in Alaska decided to leave the MSC program and
certification (in MSC) lapsed,” he said. 
“The responsible fisheries management program offered through ASMI (www.alaskaseafood.org) is ISO
accredited and is just as robust, transparent, and credible as any
certification program available today,” Fick said. “Regardless of any
certification, the consumer demand for Alaska salmon remains very strong from
people who recognize what a terrific product we have and it can be found at
countless retail outlets in the US and abroad.”

Alaska Gov.
Sean Parnell meanwhile has asked Wal-Mart to reconsider how it selects its
seafood.  “Although your commitment to
source only MSC seafood may have been sensible when first declared back in
2006, that policy is now sorely dated and is serving only to deprive your
customers of high quality products produced in America, and forcing your
company to source salmon from less sustainable fisheries in foreign nations,”
Parnell said in a July 16 letter to Wal-Mart management.