Two Alaska fisheries earn re-certification to MSC standard

August 11, 2011 11:22
The U.S. North Pacific halibut and the U.S. North Pacific sablefish fisheries that operate in territorial waters off the coast of Alaska, Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska have earned re-certification to the MSC standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries, reports with reference to MSC.

A client group comprised of the Fishing Vessel Owners Association and Deep Sea Fishermen's Union entered the fisheries into re-certification. With re-certification, products from these fisheries can continue to carry the MSC ecolabel that assures buyers and consumers the seafood can be traced back to a MSC-certified sustainable fishery.

About the fisheries

The U.S. North Pacific halibut (Hippoglosus stenolepis) is a bottom hook and longline fishery that uses hook size and design to harvest the target species while minimizing incidental by-catch or impact on the marine ecosystem. Besides Alaska, a small portion of the harvest occurs off the coast of Washington. The halibut harvest is approximately 24,000 metric tonnes annually, with North America the major market for the catch, although some product is exported to the United Kingdom and Europe. Halibut, which can grow to 500 pounds, is a popular fish with consumers and is used in products ranging from fish and chips to dinner entrées.

The U.S. North Pacific sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), known in many consumer markets as black cod, is a longline fishery in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, and the fish are typically harvested from depths in excess of 200 meters. The sablefish harvest is approximately 18,000 metric tonnes annually and the primary market is Japan, although the U.S. market has increased in recent years.

The fisheries are managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) and Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). In addition, the International Pacific Halibut Commission helps manage the halibut fishery.

The independent, third-party assessment to the MSC standard for both fisheries was conducted by Scientific Certification Systems, (SCS).

What the fishery says

Bob Alverson, manager of the Fishing Vessels Owners Association, said: The re-certifications are testament to the halibut and sablefish fishermen who have insisted on accountable management for decades, including petitioning the United States and Canadian governments for sustainable management for the halibut stocks, which led to the development of the International Pacific Halibut Commission. MSC is the global standard and the re-certifications validate to global markets that halibut and sablefish fisheries are certified sustainable."

What the MSC says

Kerry Coughlin, regional director, Americas, said: "The re-certification to the MSC standard of these two important fisheries confirms to buyers and consumers worldwide that the fisheries continue to be responsibly managed, and products from them that bear the MSC label can be traced back to sustainable Alaskan fisheries. The MSC congratulates the Fishing Vessels Owners Association and their member fishers on achieving their second five-year certification."

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