Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wal-Mart Comments on its Fish Buying Practices

A spokesman for Wal-Mart says the retail giant has sourced salmon from Alaska for many years and wants to continue to source quality seafood for years to come, while ensuring sustainable seafood is available to future generations.

“That’s why we have been and will continue to be engaged in open and transparent dialogue with Alaska fisheries, suppliers, NGOs, industry experts and government to work toward a solution,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Chris Schraeder, in his response July 22 to an inquiry regarding Wal-Mart’s preference for a stamp of approval from the London-based Marine Stewardship Council for Alaska fish.

“We work with Marine Stewardship Council, recognized as the global standard for sustainable fishery management, to make sure fisheries are certified, and we also work with fisheries that are not currently certified, but are making progress toward better fishery management through a public fishery improvement project,” Schraeder said. “Today roughly 69 percent of the wild fish we purchase and sell in the U.S. comes from fisheries either MSC certified or under assessment.”

Schraeder’s comments prompted Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, to say that Alaska’s salmon fishery has been held up as a great example of fisheries management for decades before pay-to-play sustainability ecolabels came into being.

“Nothing has changed since most companies in Alaska decided to leave the MSC program and certification (in MSC) lapsed,” he said.  “The responsible fisheries management program offered through ASMI ( is ISO accredited and is just as robust, transparent, and credible as any certification program available today,” Fick said. “Regardless of any certification, the consumer demand for Alaska salmon remains very strong from people who recognize what a terrific product we have and it can be found at countless retail outlets in the US and abroad.”

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell meanwhile has asked Wal-Mart to reconsider how it selects its seafood.  “Although your commitment to source only MSC seafood may have been sensible when first declared back in 2006, that policy is now sorely dated and is serving only to deprive your customers of high quality products produced in America, and forcing your company to source salmon from less sustainable fisheries in foreign nations,” Parnell said in a July 16 letter to Wal-Mart management.

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