ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Alaska Salmon Now", a grassroots organization of fishermen, consumers, and other representatives of the Alaska seafood industry, welcomes the recent decisions by the US federal agency General Services Administration (GSA) and Sodexo, the primary supplier of food services to the US military, to join nearly all traditional seafood buyers in recognizing Alaska salmon as the world's "gold standard" in sustainability.
The group also clarifies that despite the recent recertification of nearly all Alaska fisheries by the London-based Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), there is no change expected in the decision of the major Alaska salmon producers to voluntarily withdraw from the costly and inconsistent program. They urge the few remaining buyers with MSC only buying policies to stop swimming against the tide on Alaska salmon.
"As a fisherman, we are proud that so many established organizations and entities are validating Alaska salmon as among the world's most sustainable," said John Renner, Vice President, Cordova District Fisherman United. "Misguided MSC-only policies only serve to play into the hands of this monopolistic and self-interested organization. We urge the few remaining organizations to do what's right and recognize what countless capable and qualified organizations already do: that that the gold standard for sustainability is here in Alaska."
Nearly the entire Alaska salmon industry voluntarily dropped their participation in the high-priced European eco-label program last year in favor of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification. GSA and Sodexo, two major US buyers of seafood with policies to only purchase MSC-certified seafood, reversed course following recent US Congressional criticism, leaving Walmart as the only significant seafood buyer with an "MSC-only" policy.
In changing their policies, GSA and Sodexo join with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification, the State of Alaska, and most of the rest of the world in agreeing that Alaska's salmon fisheries are sustainably managed.
Aside from Walmart, traditional buyers continue their purchases of Alaska salmon with or without the MSC endorsement, leaning instead on the decades-long track record of Alaska's sustainable management program and the RFM endorsement. Stakeholders in the Alaska seafood industry also met this week with The Sustainability Consortium, an organization funded by Walmart and others to develop sustainability policies, to illustrate the long-standing and well-known sustainable management of Alaska seafood.
"MSC-only policies are unfairly hurting American jobs and consumers," said Greg Gabriel, Executive Director of the Northwest & Alaska Seiners Association. "Alaska has proven time and time again that our fisheries have been sustainable long before MSC, and retailers should be proud to provide sustainable Alaska salmon to its customers."
Walmart, the largest grocery supplier in the U.S., shocked many earlier this year when it announced its policy to only sell salmon products with sustainable certification labeling from MSC, an organization that receives much of its funding from Walmart and its affiliated foundations. Critics, including Members of the US Senate who held hearings into the issue last month, have decried the MSC as an organization engaged in profit-driven and monopolistic practices.
As a result of the MSC-only policy, countless jobs in Alaska's $16 billion seafood industry may be at risk, and millions of Americans may lose access to sustainable Alaska salmon.
Worldwide, Alaska has consistently been recognized for its sustainable management success. Since its inception, MSC had consistently recognized the excellence and effectiveness of Alaska's fisheries management system, ranking it above programs in British Columbia and Russia and calling it "among the most comprehensive and intensive of any fishery in the world". The EDF Seafood Selector named Alaskan salmon "Eco-Friendly and Ocean Best". The National Marine Fisheries Service's most recent annual report to Congress on the status of U.S. fish stocks indicates the overwhelming majority of stocks are healthy, however only a handful are MSC certified. The Pew Charitable Trust and Ocean Conservancy stated in a recent report that "success in managing and rebuilding America's fisheries ranks among the leading achievements of marine resource management in the world."
For Media Inquiries, please contact John Renner at 1-907-632-2536 or Greg Gabriel at 1-907-394-4604.
About Alaska Salmon Now!
"Alaska Salmon Now!" is a diverse grassroots organization comprised of American consumers, hardworking fishing families from across Alaska, and other interested parties who are demanding Walmart reverse its controversial sustainability policy that has left millions of Americans without access to the world's gold standard of sustainable seafood, Alaska salmon, and instead is forcing foreign salmon from Russia and elsewhere onto our plates. For more information please visit www.alaskasalmonnow.com.
SOURCE Alaska Salmon Now!