Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UFA offers limited OK for ASMI hookup with MSC

Deckboss has written recently about the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute likely becoming the Marine Stewardship Council's "client" for purposes of maintaining the MSC sustainability ecolabel for Alaska salmon.

We also observed how the state's main commercial fishing organization, United Fishermen of Alaska, seemed to have some reservations about such an alliance.

Well, it seems the UFA has mulled it over and come to a final position on the matter, the terms of which are contained in this press release:

United Fishermen of Alaska

Nov. 23, 2009

UFA supports ASMI as client in MSC salmon sustainability certification

United Fishermen on Alaska voted on Wednesday, Nov. 19, to support the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in assuming "client" status for the Marine Stewardship Council’s ongoing sustainability certification of Alaska wild walmon. Ray Riutta, executive director of ASMI, and Joe Bundrant, ASMI board chairman, talked to UFA about the advantages of ASMI assuming the client role and also about their concerns with the MSC certification program.

Chris Ninnes, deputy CEO of the Marine Stewardship Council, also addressed the UFA board. Mr. Ninnes acknowledged that the MSC made a number of mistakes in working with their Alaska clients. He assured UFA that the "Stinky Fish" campaign was clearly one of their missteps and that, on his watch, this type of industry attack would not occur again. Chris recognized that MSC certification for sustainability needed review and consistency worldwide.

On the other hand, Chris championed the merits of MSC certification. MSC is working to expand markets for certified Alaska wild salmon, it has intervened with more aggressive environmental groups to defend Alaska's management of certified fisheries and MSC twice refused to certify famed salmon as "sustainable." Finally, MSC is reviewing a funding construct, proposed by ASMI, for collecting logo use fees.

The UFA motion to support ASMI's association with MSC was conditioned on the satisfactory resolution of six concerns.

1. The "Alaska brand" is protected by allowing use of the ASMI logo on all Alaska seafood regardless of whether it includes the MSC logo. And, the Alaska brand is promoted by continuing an independent ASMI certification of sustainability.

2. The MSC certification program remains "cost neutral" for ASMI with the primary costs of certification paid by MSC logo licensing fees.

3. MSC certification "conditions" do not require substantial changes to Alaska's current fisheries management.

4. MSC maintains consistent certification standards.

5. MSC aggressively defends its brand.

6. MSC refrains from certifying farmed salmon.

Mark Vinsel, executive director of UFA, commented that "UFA support for the ASMI-MSC relationship was one of the big issues at the semiannual UFA board meeting. The initial time allocated for debate was not enough for the board to voice their views and the issues were further discussed late into the evening."

In the end, the board vote was unanimous.


Anonymous said...

UFA demands "MSC certification 'conditions' do not require substantial changes to Alaska's current fisheries management." UFA demands that MSC play the lackey . . . This simply reinforces my contention in an earlier post (October 19) that the industry never intended for MSC to be a truly independent third-party certifier. It's the tail wagging the chum(p).

Anonymous said...

UFA also demands "MSC refrains from certifying farmed salmon." What about MSC refraining then from certifying un-sustainable hatchery-spawned salmon? Can UFA spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e?

Anonymous said...

Kudos to UFA for taking the time and energy to not just sign up with the MSC without reviewing and researching the bizarre past practices and mistakes that MSC has made.

The other commenters on here must not be Alaskan fishermen.

MSC's last certification wanted a basic split of Alaska's fisheries into sub-areas, so that if there was a bad series of years in any region, you might find yourself on the "do not eat" list.

Insofar as Farmed vs. Hatchery, don't folks get it? Hatchery salmon spend 2-3-4 years in the natural habitat of wild salmon. There is little or no genetic difference with wild Alaska salmon and they aren't sitting and s(h)itting in pens all their lives, eating antibiotics.

Get a clue. Folks who want to bash UFA should get off their armchairs and show up and man up and be there.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're a strong UFA supporter, but last time I checked, criticizing UFA isn't "unpatriotic." If the MSC were to acede to UFA demands, then MSC's credibility will be problematic. If MSC wants to shoot itself in the foot, it will do UFA's bidding. Then, the MSC logo won't be worth the slime its premised on.

Anonymous said...

Commenter #3 -- no genetic difference between hatchery and wild?

That's just silly.

You've either been smoking too much fish or you're OD-ed on Omega 3.

Anonymous said...

Hatchery fish are hatched from the eggs of wild fish , and spend their lives swimming in the Pristine North atlantic , Farmed fish swim in net pens amongst the waste Products they produce and are fed , what do You not get about that?

Anonymous said...

yes, hatchery fish are much different than farmed fish. However, the management driven by hatchery stocks has proven a bit of a problem. In PWS there are some real concerns about the wild chum and pink stocks that are getting hammered in the pursuit of the hatchery returns. Typical weak stock mis-management playing out, except that the strong stock isn't an natural run.

Anonymous said...

The comments from Chris Ninnes are somewhat reassuring. When the MSC truly embraces the independent, 3rd party certification, then they will have my respect. But so far, the MSC has allowed the process to be bullied by anti-industry and industry interests alike.

Anonymous said...

Alaska hatcheries use returning hatchery fish for broodstock.

Anonymous said...

It makes me sad to think that Farmed fish is even an option! They eat their own feces, and provide a sub par product! Are we really willing to sacrifice quality for quantity.Proving that as long as we entertain the idea of farming fish.PWS fisherman chasing hatchery fish are postage stamped to just the immediate areas around the actual hatcheries to protect the wild stocks.