What others say: A good salmon flip-flop

Changes in government policy concerning seafood aren’t always welcomed in Alaska, but a change noted by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Monday is good news indeed for Alaska’s fishing industry.

The General Services Administration has refused, upon review of their policies, to allow non-governmental organizations that “certify” sustainable fishing practices to dictate the sources of fish the federal government purchases, according to a release from Murkowski’s office.

The fact is, third party “certifiers” of sustainable practices are not the same as governmental agencies, and they may have their own agendas. In the case of the Marine Stewardship Council, a London-based group, Alaska salmon was no longer judged by them for sustainability after October of 2012 because eight major Alaska processors dropped financial support of the MSC in favor of what the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, Inc. then called “a broader marketing message.”

A new set of GSA “Health and Sustainability Guidelines” just posted online this week seems to clear the way for fish harvested under Alaska’s sustainable methods to be purchased for whatever uses the government might put them to regardless of outside certifications.

The National Park Service already reversed its stance on barring Alaska’s wild salmon from sale under pressure from Murkowski, who last week introduced legislation aimed at stopping government agencies from ignoring existing rules and taking the certification advice of non-governmental organizations.

Our state has a strong fishing industry and uses sound management practices so fish populations will continue to thrive. In areas where there are serious issues, such as king salmon returns, people are on the job studying the issue.

It’s a shame that the law Murkowski proposes must even be proposed, as the federal government should never ignore internal policies and hand off such decisions to people who might seek an economic or political advantage. Since there appears to be a need to drive this point home, we hope her legislation gets a fair hearing.

— Juneau Empire,

Sept. 24

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