In January 2012, the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF), representing nine Alaska fishery companies and 75% of the salmon harvest, decided to withdraw from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. Instead, they will follow the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification. Though this article was written last year, it is still valid because the issues arising from the AFDF decision are ongoing. If you google Alaska salmon, MSC, FAO-RFM; you will see articles daily. I selected this article because I found all of the follow-on articles confusing – I did not know the basis for the discussion (sometimes huge arguments!) that were ongoing in the media. I think by reading the above imbedded piece, you can at least see what the issues are on the AFDF side.
As we learned in class, by their state constitution that dictates fisheries management, Alaska has historically been a relatively good steward of the environment. AFDF claims that regardless of certification, Alaska’s salmon fishery is sustainable and valid for them to avoid the lengthy and financially high process of going through the MSC certification. Even the governor supports this change by stating that Alaska fisheries “have a constitutional mandate for sustained yield, a commitment to scientific research, … to serve the Alaska people… employing more people than any other industry in Alaska.’
Understanding that third party certification, such as MSC labeled products, reassure clients that a fishery is responsibly managed, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), has taken pains to communicate that the FAO-RFM process has high standards and is accessible to all. Of note, there are no fees in this certification process, most likely the main reason for this change.
Meanwhile, for those enterprises still using the Alaskan MSC standards, Intertek Moody Marine announced there would be a delay in the re-certification process for the Alaskan salmon fishery. The recertification will not be complete until summer 2013.