Alaska’s cod fishery has joined the ranks of seafood certified as sustainable via an Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute third party certification program, in a growing competition over who will certify the state’s fisheries as sustainable.
The Certification for Responsible Fisheries Management, announced April 22, provides additional value for Alaska cod producers and processors selling in markets where independent third-party certification is desired, said Randy Rice, technical director for ASMI.
“Alaska cod joins the other RFM certified fisheries in Alaska and adds to the growing list of fisheries, such as those from Iceland and the US Gulf of Mexico that recognize RFM as a credible, independent and efficient certification,” Rice said.
ASMI announced on April 16 that about 80 percent of Alaska’s 2013 wild salmon harvest would be certified through the same program.
A limited supply of Marine Stewardship Council certified Alaska salmon may also become available, pending completion of the MSC assessment process estimated to be finished in July, ASMI said.
ASMI contracted several years ago with Global Trust, an Ireland-based third party certification program, for these RFM certification services.
The effort began several years ago when processors of Alaska seafood became concerned that wild Alaska seafood might lose its distinction of coming from well-managed, sustainable Alaska fisheries. That concern was prompted by growth of the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainable fisheries certification program, itself a rigorous process, which gives the same stamp of certification to all fisheries that meet its criteria. According to MSC’s website, there are more than 11,000 MSC-labeled products on sale around the world, from prepared meats to fresh fish.
MSC’s website also lists by species where shoppers can buy seafood that the organization has certified as sustainable. For cod shoppers, the site lists cod from the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska, as well as cod from several European fisheries.
Alaska salmon was first certified as sustainable by MSC back in September 2000, and recertified in November 2007, according to the MSC website.
Since then, said ASMI’s Tyson Fick, a number of suppliers backed out of that program. The whole fishery will be certified under the Global Trust’s United Nationals FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) based Responsible Fisheries Management Program. In order to make the certified claim, however, a supplier must have chain of custody verified as is required by the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, he said.
More information about ASMI’s certification program is at www.alaskaseafood.org.
More information about MSC’s certification program is at www.msc.org.