Sunday, January 13, 2013

A salmon summit in Seattle

Bye-bye MSC bluefish? Deckboss photo

We've noted from time to time how those MSC folks are having a hard time hanging onto Alaska salmon.

MSC is the Marine Stewardship Council, a London-based certifier of sustainable fisheries.

The MSC made quite a splash with Alaska salmon back in 2000, when the fishery first won the organization's blue eco-label.

MSC-blessed seafood is said to have an advantage in the global marketplace.

For a long while, Alaska and the MSC seemed to be happy partners.

In recent years, however, many players in the Alaska seafood industry have become disenchanted with the MSC, for a variety of reasons.

This also goes for state officials, who apparently aren't too enthused about current efforts to keep MSC certification going.

A Seattle-based fishing group, the Purse Seine Vessel Owners' Association, is seeking renewal of the MSC label on behalf of seven Alaska salmon processors led by Sitka-based Silver Bay Seafoods.

Achieving this recertification necessarily would involve a lot of work for the state, specifically the Department of Fish and Game.

But apparently the department isn't much interested in playing along.

Nor is the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which has become something of an MSC rival in pursuing an alternative certification scheme for Alaska salmon and other seafood.

Now, here's the fun part.

It seems that two top state officials will meet tomorrow with PSVOA to discuss "concerns" about the MSC certification program. Here's a letter, co-signed by Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell and Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell, seeking out the meeting.

Deckboss has seen some additional correspondence elaborating on the state's position.

"Our concerns with the MSC process have to do with governance and policy, loss of market access, and brand erosion," Bell wrote in a Jan. 3 email to Bob Kehoe, PSVOA executive director.

Interestingly, this summit on Alaska salmon won't be held in Juneau or Anchorage, but in Seattle. The two commissioners are traveling there personally.

Should be a pleasant meeting, no?


Anonymous said...

Turns out MSC is not interested in certifying or re certifying sustainable fisheries, they want to become the worldwide brand of seafoods. There would be no "Wild Alaskan Salmon" There would only be MSC or not. That is what all the fuss is about. Had MSC limited itself to just certifying sustainable fisheries, everything would have been fine, but when their agenda of becoming the only "Brand" became clear, that's when the Secretay of Commerce for the United Stated of America stepped in. Rob Z. and Bob Kehoe are going to get their butts chewed pretty good for this little bit of hubris. What the Hell were they thinking and where is the PSVOA governing board of directors in this stinky deal.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:23am - Can you expand on your comment "they want to become the worldwide brand of seafoods." My understanding of MSC is "With experts we developed standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability. They ensure that MSC-labelled seafood comes from, and can be traced back to, a sustainable fishery."

Further, "MSC meets the highest benchmarks for credible certification and ecolabelling, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines and the ISEAL Code". I've never heard nor seen any indicators that would suggest that MSC wants to be a "worldwide brand of seafoods."

And will there really be no "wild Alaskan seafood"? When did they want to be the only "brand"?

I'm simply trying to understand your comments. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Through clever marketing the MSC has forced its way in between long time Alaska Salmon producers and their customers. The Alaska Salmon fishery has been a sustainably managed long before MSC came along. To suddenly have to pay the MSC a tithe in order to sell their product, is nothing short of extortion.

Anonymous said...

MSC should know that Alaska Processors believe they own Alaskan fish. From waters edge to plate. This group will do anything to maintain their DOMINANCE. Just ask the fishermen, previous fish buyers and anyone who buys fish from them. MSC is a threat to that in their eyes.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that a lot of right wing zealots in the United States and Alaska are upset that they have to pay a group associated with the World Wildlife Fund, a known conservation type group, to achieve the most respected and recognized certificate for well managed "sustainable" fisheries.
But, politics aside, my understanding from my friends in Europe are that the best, and in many markets, the only, certificate paid attention to is the MSC.
On the other hand, here is a detailed critique of MSC by Greenpeace:
Just heard from a friend at the Board of Game meeting where the ADF&G is operating under a gag rule where all staff comments have to be approved and in line with top down determined correctness. I imagine the same thing is going on in the fisheries division.
Thank you PSVOA for standing up to this tyranny.

Anonymous said...

OK, lets back up a ways. MSC certifies the Bering Sea polluck fisheries even though that midwater trawl fishery has had a very significant impact on the Chinook population. What's so responsible about that? I think MSC also certifies some farmed salmon groups in various places. Farming salmon isn't a very responsible or eco freindly business, nope not at all. I think that if you look at MSC's history you'll find that they approached Alaska Salmon as it was already known around the world as the model for sustainability. Alaskan Salmon gave MSC validation, not the other way around. So, what dirty little deed did MSC try and pull that got them tossed? It must have been pretty low because, PSVOA offered to fund them on their own and that offer brought the Commerce Secretary of the US and the Commissioner of Fish and Game for the State of Alaska to Seattle to put a stop to the process.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...MSC...hatcheries...sustainable?...sticky wicket.

Ah yes, certification through remuneration. What a country,

Anonymous said...

So Wes

Wtf happened

Is that it. Meeting is over, right.

Deckboss said...

What happened?

Wish I knew!

Anonymous said...

Adf+g nor the processors want a third party reviewing and criticizing their practices. So now they have ASMI "certifying " their fisheries. ASMI- completely funded by the state and the processors is a credible watchdog?

Think there isn't a problem? Just look at the northern chum returnsand king returns across the state both of which are victims of interception. Want great confirmation that the state is fine with intercept fisheries and their impact? Just read the freshly released WASSIP report.

Anonymous said...

Oh Alaska, Alaska, crooked state Alaska

London....Canada....Yukon Kings...Bycatch....Connect the dots.

Anonymous said...

Sustainable salmon fisheries and the WASSIP report.