Alaska Pollock Fisheries Earn MSC Re-certification

December 17, 2010 12:32

The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Alaska pollock fishery (BSAI) has earned Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) re-certification having been independently assessed and found to be sustainable and well-managed, reports with reference to MSC.

With the recertification of the Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery earlier this year, now all pollock from Alaska remains eligible to bear the widely respected blue MSC ecolabel.  MSC certification lasts for five years, with annual surveillance audits.  Both Alaska pollock fisheries were first certified in 2005 and entered assessment for re-certification in 2009.

Together the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska pollock fisheries comprise the largest fishery in the United States and one of the largest fisheries in the world. The recertification announcement of the BSAI Alaska pollock fishery coincides with this week's decision by U.S. fishery managers to set the 2011 BSAI pollock harvest at 1.27 million metric tons, which is approximately the average catch sustained by that fishery over past 30 years of U.S. management. 
What the fishery says

At-Sea Processors Association (APA) is the client representing the fishery. Stephanie Madsen, executive director of APA, said, "Alaska pollock was one of the first fisheries to be certified under the MSC program, and we are pleased to see the sustainability of our fishery affirmed once again.  The independent scientists who conducted the reassessment assigned the fishery very high scores across the board, reflecting the progressive management approach."
What the MSC says

Kerry Coughlin, the MSC's regional director, Americas, said: "The assessment for re-certification confirms that the Alaska pollock fishery is one of the best managed fisheries in the world.  In the management of this fishery, the annual harvest level is set conservatively; bycatch levels are extremely low with  99.5 percent of what is caught in the nets being utilized; there is 100 percent federal observer coverage; and, a quota system allocates a portion of the pollock catch to local Alaska communities. With re-certification, I'm confident the Alaska pollock fishery will continue to do well in global commercial markets where the MSC ecolabel is either required or highly sought after."

The primary commercial markets for Alaska pollock products are Japan, North America and Europe. Japan is the principal market for surimi and pollock roe products. North America and Europe are the main markets for fillets and fillet blocks. Alaska pollock fillet products are used in fish sandwiches, fish and chips, fish fingers and a wide variety of ready-to-cook consumer meals. Alaska pollock surimi is a primary ingredient in hundreds of different varieties of surimi seafood products made worldwide.

Pat Shanahan, program director for Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) said: "There is strong demand for sustainable seafood products among our European customers and growing demand in other key markets.  The MSC recertification of the Alaska pollock fisheries will allow retail and foodservice customers to continue use of Alaska pollock in their sustainability programs, and also for the expansion of sales to new markets as demand grows.  Consumers who want sustainable seafood can also be assured that Alaska pollock continues to be the best environmental choice they could make."

The MSC program is the leading global standard for certified sustainable seafood. In order for a fishery to become MSC-certified, a third-party auditor assesses three major principles based on the MSC standard: the status of the fish stock; the impact that the fishery has on the marine ecosystem; and the management system overseeing the fishery.

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