Retail giant Walmart made it official this week: the company will continue to purchase sustainable seafood from Alaska. The company announced on Jan 27 an update to its sustainability policy that will ensure that wild Alaska salmon is back on its store shelves for purchase by millions of domestic consumers.
Walmart has expanded its sustainable seafood policy to accept certification from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture–based Responsible Fisheries Management program, which currently certifies wild Alaska salmon.
Fish harvesters, including Cordova District Fishermen United, said they were pleased with Walmart’s decision. “For years, Walmart has acknowledged publicly that wild Alaska salmon is among the world’s most sustainable seafood, and this decision finally ensures that their policies reflect this reality,” said John Renner, vice president of Cordova District Fishermen United and a spokesperson for Alaska Salmon Now.
The policy change came on the heels of months of discussions and negotiations over Walmart’s policy that allowed only Marine Stewardship Council certified seafood to be purchased. The bulk of Alaska salmon industry participants cut their ties with London-based MSC in 2012 over concerns about increasingly higher costs and other issues with MSC.
Incoming Walmart president and chief executive officer Doug McMillon said in a letter to Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, that “Alaska has been a model of fishery sustainability for decades, and American consumers have come to recognize the quality and sustainability of Alaska seafood.” McMillon said it was his goal to work with the Alaska seafood industry and its partners to uphold principles of The Sustainability Consortium, of which Walmart is a founding member, so that Walmart can continue to source seafood from Alaska for years to come.
That decision should reaffirm to the seafood purchasers around the world that there should not be just one arbiter of sustainability,” said Greg Gabriel, executive director of the Northwest and Alaska Seiners Association. “Alaska has proven time and time again that our fisheries have been sustainable long before MSC, and retailers everywhere should be proud to provide sustainable Alaska salmon to their customers.”