Walmart Agrees to Work With ASMI on Sustainability Particulars

The nation’s largest retailer has reaffirmed its commitment to buy Alaska seafood, and will work with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute on sustainability issues to meet needed criteria.

Doug McMillon, incoming president and chief executive officer of Walmart, said in a letter to Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, on Jan. 21 that the company is excited that ASMI has agreed to work with Walmart to ensure the Responsible Fisheries Management standard employed by ASMI meets principles for credible sustainable fisheries programs developed by The Sustainability Consortium.

Walmart is a founding member of TSC, which works collaboratively to accurately quantify and communicate the sustainability of products.

“Alaska has been a model of fishery sustainability for decades, and American consumers have come to recognize the quality and sustainability of Alaska seafood,” McMillon told Begich. “It is my goal that by working together, the Alaska seafood industry and its partners will work to uphold TSC’s principles so we can continue to source quality seafood from Alaska for years to come. I look forward to the continued partnership with the state of Alaska.”
Begich thanked ASMI and state officials “for showing Walmart what Alaskans already know- Alaskans put the ‘sustainable’ in sustainable seafood.”

Sustainability of the state’s seafood is mandated by the state’s constitution.

Walmart officials visited Juneau a couple of weeks ago at the invitation of Gov. Sean Parnell and urging of other representatives of the state.

The meeting, all agreed, was very productive.

The sustainability issue came to a head back in 2011, when Walmart made a decision to purchase only seafood that had been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, based in London. While a number of processors of Alaska seafood initially signed on for the MSC certification program, they dropped out, opting instead for a sustainability program sponsored by ASMI, citing cost and other issues.

State officials wanted the opportunity to show Walmart first-hand how serious the state is about its commitment to sustainable fisheries, and from that meeting, agreement was reached to work together for a solution.