AFDF to serve as new client managing MSC certification for Alaska salmon

February 22, 2010 12:17
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been informed by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) that the AFDF board voted today in favor of AFDF serving as the client for the purpose of maintaining MSC certification for the entire Alaska salmon fishery.  AFDF will immediately begin work with an independent certifier to conduct the required annual audit for the fishery.  Successful completion of the audit will ensure an unbroken supply of MSC-certified Alaska salmon reports with reference to MSC.

MSC had previously been in discussions with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), which had made a provisional commitment to become the client.  At their December 3 board meeting, however, new issues extending beyond the established MSC program structure were introduced by ASMI regarding client cost sharing.  ASMI indicated the issues could have an impact on their state funding relationship, and the board voted to further postpone decision on whether to become the client for MSC certification of Alaska salmon.

AFDF was able to move forward with a commitment to become the client, which removes further delays and uncertainty about management of the certificate.  MSC appreciates the commitment of ASMI, United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) and the other Alaska fishing industry representatives in addition to AFDF who have worked to ensure an ongoing MSC certificate for Alaska salmon.  MSC will continue to work in cooperation with the state's fishery managers, processors and fishermen to help highlight and add market benefit to this important and sustainable fishery.

AFDF takes over the role of client for MSC certification of Alaska salmon from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), which served as the client since Alaska salmon was first certified to the MSC standard in 2000.  ADFG was in the unusual role of a government fishery management body serving as an MSC certificate holder, and indicated that it wanted to transition that role to another entity.

About MSC

MSC is an international nonprofit organization that operates a widely recognized sustainability and eco-labeling program for wild-capture fisheries.  Under the program, fisheries voluntarily seek an independent, third-party assessment by an accredited certifier who leads an objective, scientific evaluation of the fishery to determine if it meets the MSC standard for sustainable, well-managed fisheries.  If certified, fisheries may use the MSC ecolabel in marketing and promoting their products provided they continue to meet the standard.  MSC fishery certifications are valid for five years, subject to annual audits.

About the Alaska salmon fishery

The Alaska salmon fishery was recertified in November of 2007.  If the fishery successfully completes the current and subsequent annual audits as planned, the existing MSC certificate will be valid until November of 2012.  To continue certification beyond 2012, the fishery will have to pass a recertification assessment and obtain a third five-year certificate. There has been no break in the status of the current certificate in this client transition, and all Alaska salmon caught since the original certification in 2000 has been eligible to carry the MSC ecolabel.

More about AFDF's new role

AFDF will maintain the scope of the current certificate so that it will continue to cover all Alaska salmon fisheries and species.  They will take responsibility for conducting yearly audits and meeting the requirements of the MSC program, and will keep use of the certificate available to all Alaska salmon harvesters.  AFDF, which currently serves as the client for the MSC-certified Alaska Pacific cod fishery, has indicated they will be establishing a similar cost share mechanism for use of the MSC certificate by members of the Alaska salmon industry.  AFDF will prorate across participants joining the client group the costs associated with maintaining the Alaska salmon fishery certificate.

What MSC says

"The MSC very much welcomes AFDF's decision to become the client for the Alaska salmon fishery," said MSC Chief Executive Rupert Howes. "Markets globally will welcome this announcement and MSC looks forward to working with AFDF, ASMI, ADFG and other partners involved in the Alaskan salmon fishery. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank ADFG for their leadership in engaging with the MSC program in our early years. A bold move that led to Alaskan salmon being amongst the first few fisheries in the world to achieve MSC certification."

Will Martin, Chair of the MSC Board of Trustees, said "We're grateful to both ASMI and AFDF for the support and consideration they have given to the client role, and are pleased that AFDF has agreed to accept and maintain this certificate. Alaska salmon is an iconic brand, nationally and internationally, and the industry and the fishery managers are some of the most committed and involved in the MSC program. The decision by AFDF is important for many in the industry, and recognizes the benefits that are at the heart of our approach of using the market to promote and reward responsible fishing practices."

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