Walmarts to continue stocking local salmon

Following his and Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s recent success with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., U.S. Sen. Mark Begich will continue his campaign requesting international food-chains stock Alaskan seafood.


Begich on Friday wrote Sodexo USA President and CEO George Chavel asking that the corporation serve Alaska seafood not certified through the Marine Stewardship Council. In late June, Begich made the same request of Wal-mart Stores Inc. CEO Michael Duke.

And, Thursday, Begich shipped a halibut fillet to Domino’s Pizza Headquarters in Michigan, as a statement of concern about the pizza chain’s commercial “Powered by Pizza.” In a note, Begich asked Domino’s Pizza to stop being “halibut-haters.”

Now Begich will focus on sport fisheries. The senator will visit Kenai 3:45 to 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska to speak with sport fishing representatives about the Magnuson Stevens Act.

The seafood controversy began in January 2012 when much of Alaska’s fish packing industry opted out of the MSC certification program because of the program’s rising logo fees, inconsistent standards and increasing fees.

Since 2006, Wal-Mart has required that seafood sold in its U.S. superstores be certified sustainable through MSC, according to the Wal-mart Stores Inc. sustainability blog.

During its Aug. 7 meeting, Kenai Council passed a resolution requesting Walmart buy non-MSC certified Alaskan seafood.

“For them not to carry our salmon is crazy,” Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said. “What better product is there than this?”

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. did not return several phone calls placed Thursday and Friday. Chris Schraeder, Sustainability Communications Senior Manager, responded in an email that the corporation takes the “issue of sustainable seafood” very seriously.

“We recognize that our customers want to have a broad assortment of seafood options,” Schraeder said, “including seafood caught in Alaska.”

MSC is based in London, and industry officials said the program had lost its value after it certified too many fisheries as “sustainable.” Criticism has also been cast at the program as its certification required that fisheries receiving it comply to sustainably guidelines within five years.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute developed a certification program for fisheries following wide-spread dissent of MSC’s program. ASMI’s program based its standards on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Wal-mart Stores Inc. has invited Alaska to send Parnell and members of ASMI; the Alaska Department of Fish and Game; and the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development to its corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., according to the state of Alaska’s government website. The team is intended to educate senior Wal-mart Stores Inc. executives and buyers of Alaska’s sustainable fishery management practices.

The Juneau Empire contributed to this report.


Dan Schwartz can be reached at