Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MSC Wants Maximum Use of Certificates, Urges Mediation

Marine Stewardship Council officials are urging both sides in a dispute over certification of wild Alaska salmon to seek mediation services in Seattle.

MSC chief executive Rupert Howes made the request May 19 in a letter to Stefanie Moreland of Trident Seafoods and Rob Zuanich, executive director of the Alaska Salmon Processors Association, the client for MSC certification of the Alaska salmon.

Howes said that MSC is prepared to identify a suitable facilitator/mediator, coordinate the process and pay for facilitation services.

Howes said MSC requires that all clients be willing to accept new clients to their certificate, and that MSC expects clients and eligible new entrants to engage in good faith discussion to determine an appropriate cost-sharing mechanism to allow eligible new entrants to access existing certificates.

The letter came in the wake of a decision by ASPA to reject an appeal by Moreland on behalf of Trident Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, North Pacific Seafoods, Alaska General Seafoods, Leader Creek Seafoods, and KwikPak Fisheries to be covered under ASPA’s certificate.

Moreland appealed to MSC to intervene on May 15 after receiving the emailed rejection from ASPA to join its client group. Trident and the other processers on whose behalf Moreland made the request are certified as sustainable through an Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute sponsored program, but some major European buyers require the MCS certification.

One processor said a major European client has said without MSC certification there would be no purchases.

Alaska’s constitution requires that all fisheries in the state be managed for sustainability, and when MSC began its sustainability certification program, the London-based organization appealed to Alaska processors to join.

Now without the MSC certification, some of the companies who helped MSC gain stature in European markets might find it difficult to sell into those markets.

In its rejection of Moreland’s request, Zuanich, a Seattle attorney and managing partner in Silver Bay Seafoods, an ASPA member, chronicled events in which ASMI and some major processors were highly critical of MSC.

“We see a group of large processors who attempted to destroy the MSC certification of Alaska salmon through almost any means possible,” Zuanich wrote. “We also see that when this group of large processors were members of past MSC salmon client groups they gave no consideration to the views of the smaller processors or Alaska’s salmon fishermen.”

Zuanich said with the fishing season under way, ASPA members have their businesses to run, and were willing to resume discussions in September “with the express intention of establishing comprehensive stable sustainability certification or verification in 2016 for Alaska salmon.”

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