Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Companies Seeking MSC Certification Make an Offer

Companies seeking to be part of the Alaska salmon certificate for Marine Stewardship Council certification say they’ve offered to pay the full cost of the assessment and annual audits incurred to date by the existing client group in order to access the certificate.

“We are still awaiting response to our request to joint the client group,” said Stefanie Moreland, director of government relations and seafood sustainability for Trident Seafoods, this week.

“The offer includes administrative expenses and would be contingent upon the client group extending the certificate to any other eligible fishery participants,” Moreland said. “This approach is intended to expedite negotiations since a fight over equitable distribution of costs is not necessary if new entrants are willing to absorb 100 percent.

“Moving forward, new entrants would expect more equitable distribution of costs incurred to the client group,” Moreland said. “New members will not disrupt the structure of ASPA and are open to discussions of any mitigation measures the client group thinks necessary.”

The certificate sharing arrangement for the Alaska salmon MSC certificate at the time of the April 7 request to join the client group stated that the client “will share the certification with eligible salmon fishermen, seafood processing companies and other qualified individuals or entities, subject to their consenting to a cost-sharing mechanism for the expenses associated with obtaining and maintaining the MSC certification.”

There has been no response yet to the offer extended to the Alaska Salmon Processors Association, an offer that would also cover expenses incurred by the Purse Seine Vessel Owners’ Association. 

Rob Zuanich, of Silver Bay Seafoods, which is part of the current client group, said that no decision had been reached yet.

The Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association had been the client for getting Alaska’s salmon fishery recertified through MSC, but after that recertification was completed, the PSVOA withdrew as the client and a new client group was formed, of processors who were part of the client group under which the PSVOA got recertification.

So still, on the eve of what is expected to be a very robust harvest season for wild Alaska salmon, there are concerns among processors with European markets over the lack of the MSC certification demanded by some buyers.

Other issues they are reckoning with include a substantial inventory of unsold canned and frozen 2014 harvest, which has been moving, and the strength of the dollar over the euro, the yen and the ruble.

Geoff Bolan, director for MSC’s Americas program, said that MSC was happy to learn that these companies wanted to rejoin the client group. If the existing client group, the holder of current MSC certification, and the applicant companies cannot reach agreement, these companies could then opt to commence a duplicate MSC fishery assessment, he said.

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