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The Alaska Salmon Fishery Enters Assessment for a Third Certification to the MSC Standard for Sustainable Fishing

The Alaska salmon fishery has entered assessment for its 2nd re-certification which, if successful, will establish a milestone by becoming the first U.S. fishery to earn MSC certification three times.  The fishery, first certified in 2000 and recertified in 2007, includes Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), Chum (O. keta), Coho (O. kisutch), Pink (O. gorbuscha) and Sockeye (O. nerka) salmon within the state’s 16 geographical management units. 

About the fishery

The Alaska salmon fishery operates within U.S. territorial waters adjacent to the coast of the State of Alaska and in rivers that terminate in Alaska.  Salmon are harvested by nets, including drift, set and purse seine, and by trolling and fish wheel; the latter operates like a water-powered mill wheel and includes baskets to catch fish.  Approximately 75 percent of the fresh or frozen product is sold in Japan, while the remaining canned product is sold primarily in Europe and the U.S. Alaska salmon products bearing the MSC ecolabel are sold in 21 countries today. 

In 2010, the annual catch was approximately 363,000 metric tonnes; Pink accounted for more than half of the harvest, followed by Sockeye, Chum, Coho, and Chinook.

The fishery is managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and under a U.S. Canadian Pacific Salmon Treaty.

The organization serving as the client for the Alaska salmon fishery is the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF).

Intertek Moody Marine will conduct the independent, third-party assessment to the MSC standard.

What the fishery says 

Jim Browning, executive director of AFDF said: “Alaskans take pride in the successful management of our salmon resources to produce long-term sustained-yield as required by Title VIII of our State constitution, and it is important to have these accomplishments affirmed by the Marine Stewardship Council. The MSC label helps Alaska’s salmon harvesters and processors tell people around the world that Alaska takes good care of our marine and freshwater environments.” 

What the MSC says

Kerry Coughlin, regional director, Americas, said: “The Alaska salmon fishery made a statement about Alaska’s commitment to and confidence in its sustainability practices that served as a model for fisheries around the world in its previous certifications and MSC welcomes the Alaska salmon fishery into assessment toward potential MSC certification for a third time.” 

MSC certificates are issued for five years and require that the fishery undergo and pass annual surveillance audits in order for the certificate to remain valid during that period.

MSC in numbers