Wild Alaska Pacific halibut are now certified by the independent third-party United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization based on Responsible Fisheries Management criteria.
Assessment in late April came after a 12-month independent assessment of the fishery performed at the request of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
ASMI officially announced the certification during a reception at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels, Belgium on May 3.
The certification covers Alaska Pacific halibut fished with benthic longline within International Pacific Halibut Commission regulatory areas 2C, 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B and 4CDE.
The global trust certification committee, including fishery, certification and accreditation experts, was tasked with qualitative review of the formal processes, assessment reports and recommendations provide by the fishery assessment team and peer reviewers appointed to assess this fishery. The certification committee agreed unanimously with the assessment team’s findings that the Alaska Pacific halibut commercial fishery is responsibly managed, using robust fishery management plans based on good science.
The management systems are certified as being in line with those recommended by the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
The certification lasts for five years and involves annual surveillance assessments of the fisheries. The certification means the Alaska pacific halibut commercial fishery has met the criteria for certification of responsibly managed fisheries at the time of the assessment, but does not certify that the fisheries will remain responsibly managed in the future.
The Alaska Pacific halibut fisheries assessment to the FAO-based program meanwhile has entered the peer review stage. Peer review is a technical review of the evidence documented by the assessment team that demonstrates the level of conformity of the fishery to the FAO code and guides. Ultimately the peer reviewers provide a critical evaluation of the consistency in the recommendation made by the assessment team as to whether the fishery is recommended for certification.
The first of Alaska’s commercial fisheries, Alaska salmon, was certified on March 11. The importance of sustainability is so important in Alaska that authors of the state’s constitution in 1959 included in the document wording mandating that “fish … be utilized, developed and maintained on the sustained yield principle.”