Eco-label for Alaska's pollock fishery offers good news for industry

Posted: Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Good news for Alaska fisheries comes from the Marine Stewardship Council, which is recommending that the pollock fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands be certified as environmentally friendly.

The recommendation was made in a draft report released recently by the international organization created in 1997 by Unilever and the World Wildlife Fund.

Independent since 1999, MSC has developed a standard by which fisheries can be certified as well-managed and sustainable. Seafood harvested in MSC-approved fisheries can be sold with a label assuring consumers that the product did not contribute to over-fishing, according to MSC.

The MSC eco-label has helped Alaska's salmon, which was certified in 2000. Since then selective chefs have used the label as a tool to promote Alaska wild salmon, as have Whole Foods Markets, Wild Oats stores and other savvy seafood retailers across the country.

Alaskans know our salmon is the best in the world. MSC's eco-label helps people around the globe come to the same conclusion whenever they dine in a fine restaurant or shop at their neighborhood seafood counter.

Alaska's pollock should be certified in the same manner. And it looks headed in that direction, but it's not there yet.

The process usually takes about a year. But with an annual harvest about 1.1 million metric tons (about 30 percent of the entire annual harvest of seafood in the United States), the pollock fishery is so large that it took MSC and its researchers two years to reach the point of releasing a draft report.

Now that the draft report is available, there's a public comment process underway until Oct. 26, followed by an MSC determination announcement and a 21-day objection period. Then, if all has gone well, the pollock fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands will be approved.

We support an MSC certification of the pollock fishery. Like Alaska's salmon fisheries, it's proven through time to be a sustainable source of top-quality seafood.

It's also encouraging to note that other fisheries now undergoing the MSC certification process include the Alaska sablefish fishery and the fisheries for Pacific halibut in Alaska, Washington and Oregon states.

Simply put, there are no fisheries on the planet more deserving of the MSC label or any other environmentally friendly and organic designation than those in Alaska.

Ketchikan Daily News

Oct. 1



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