Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Salmon Producers Decide to Rejoin MSC, All Bristol Bay Sockeye to be MSC Certified
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – April 10, 2015
Virtually all of Alaska’s abundant wild salmon will be harvested under MSC certification as well as the existing RFM certification this summer.   The major processors representing more than 70% of Alaskan Wild Salmon who withdrew from the MSC program in 2010, are in discussions with the Marine Stewardship Council and the existing client group to offer MSC certified salmon.

Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan, Trident, Icicle, Alaska General Seafoods, Leader Creek and North Pacific Seafoods, Kwikpak Fisheries LLC, Triad Fisheries and Yukon Gold have joined with Copper River Seafoods, Silver Bay, Double E Foods, 10th & M and some smaller producers to land and process salmon that will be eligible for the Marine Stewardship Council chain of custody certification.

This agreement comes about as both the salmon market and the certification landscape have changed significantly since 2010.  It was announced late today in Seattle.

First, the MSC has proved to be a professional organization with a very robust standard.  Through their participation in the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative they have indicated willingness to live in a world where multiple sustainability certifications are accepted.

One key for the Alaskan companies has been that rejoining the MSC would not detract from continued robust support for the FAO Based Responsible Fisheries Management certification.  The RFM program, which also certifies Alaska salmon, is being adapted by ASMI to meet requirements of the GSSI benchmark.

With major retailers, suppliers, the FAO, and development organizations in both the Netherlands and Germany all coalescing around the GSSI sustainability benchmark, the chance of a monopoly by a single sustainability standard has greatly lessened.  Furthermore, the GSSI process and its secretariat has shown a strong commitment to creating a widely supported credible benchmark.

Furthermore, as retailers grapple with new supply chain issues including labor standards, protection from slave labor, and how standards are applied across the entire range of products being sold to customers, the need for simpler and more transparent seafood sustainability standards is driving these developments.  Retailers are embracing a variety of methods for communicating sustainability.

For example, Walmart has found that all Alaska salmon meets The Sustainability Consortium guidelines it supports, and it currently features Alaska salmon under its ‘sustainability leaders’ program.

During the Boston Seafood Show, Metro, the fifth largest global retailer, based in Germany but operating in 30 countries, said they would embrace all seafood certifications that met the GSSI benchmark.  Many other European retailers, such as Ahold, are expected to follow suit.

In this context, the Alaska Brand represents the best seafood sustainability, practices globally.  Alaska has the track record of historic recovery and rebuilding of wild salmon to levels of abundance not seen in hundreds of years, and Alaska can easily maintain its brand integrity in a world with a range of eco-labels.

As the MSC started with Alaska Fisheries, it is appropriate that all Alaska fisheries remain available within the MSC system, for those buyers who want this choice.

“This decision is based on the recognition that both the salmon market and certification landscape have changed in recent years,” said Stefanie Moreland, Director of Government Relations and Seafood Sustainability at Trident Seafoods. “Today, there is growing market acceptance for multiple sustainability certifications, underscored by the significant progress made in establishing a common global benchmark for certification programs.”

Moreland added, “The successful launch of Alaska’s RFM program in 2010 and its ongoing growth and evolution was undoubtedly a major factor in this market shift, and we continue to pledge our full support for the RFM program.”

Adopting both RFM and MSC certification would eliminate arbitrary sustainability product differentiation in the market place for Alaska salmon and ensure that even more consumers around the world will be able to enjoy the world’s most sustainable and high-quality seafood.

“We project historic runs of wild Alaska salmon this year, and it is important that as many global retailers as possible have access to our abundant supply,” said Barry Collier, President and CEO of Peter Pan Seafoods. “We recognize different markets have different preferences for certification, which is why we look forward to offering choice.”

As a testament to the long-standing sustainability success of Alaska’s seafood industry, the 2015 run of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is projected to be approximately 50% larger than the long-term mean, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“In Alaska, we work hard to ensure that we maintain the most advanced and rigorous science-based approach to ensuring the sustainable management of our fisheries,” said Jeff Regnart, Director of ADF&G’s Commercial Fisheries.  “The decision of the Alaska salmon producers to expand their certification options reaffirms Alaska’s commitment to keeping responsible fisheries management at its core, and to promoting choice and competition in the marketplace.”

The idea that some buyers may not have access to the salmon production capacity they need was another factor in the decision of the major producers to rejoin the MSC.  With the Bristol Bay Sockeye Run projected to be 50% above the long-term average, the major producers are eager this year to compete head to head with Russian sockeye for those buyers who require MSC certification in Europe.  With a more robust, transparent, and better sustainability record than the Russian salmon fisheries, the Alaskans wanted to make sure all European customers had the choice of Alaska Seafood – which ASMI calls the ‘Gold Standard.’

There are many significant fisheries issues being faced in Alaska, including how to best manage hatchery salmon, what to do about declining harvests of chinook salmon, and how to protect salmon habitat state wide.  With these issues now the focus of salmon management efforts, and being seriously addressed by all certification schemes including both RFM and the MSC, it did not make sense to continue to prevent customers who wanted the MSC chain of custody from having it.

The decision to rejoin the MSC chain of custody certification for Alaska salmon will benefit everyone:  the customers, the certification schemes, the fishery managers, and state of Alaska, which supports getting the highest value possible from the state’s salmon resources.

The Marine Stewardship Council welcomed the decision of the Alaska producers.  Geoff Bolan, the Marine Stewardship Council’s U.S. Program Director said “The MSC is happy to learn of these companies’ desire to rejoin the group of MSC certified Alaska salmon processors. Many of these companies have been involved in the MSC program for a long time as Chain of Custody certificate holders and participants in MSC certified fisheries.

“The discussion on how these companies may join the existing client group, Alaska Salmon Processors Association, which holds the current MSC certificate, remains between the Association and the applicant companies.

“The MSC has worked closely with the Alaska seafood industry for more than a decade and we look forward to maintaining and strengthening our partnership.”

The Marine Stewardship Council’s Certification of Alaska Salmon, as completed by Intertek Moody Marine, applies to 13 out of 14 units of certification.  Prince William Sound pink salmon was not included in the latest assessment to the MSC standard, as ongoing State of Alaska research on hatchery impacts has not been completed.

The certification applies to all five species of salmon, and all commercially licensed salmon harvesters.   The revised MSC 2.0 standard requires that for every certification where additional companies or harvesters are qualified to join the client group, but have not yet done so, the client must make a public commitment as to how other companies can join the client group.  For Alaska Salmon, this commitment letter was issued in 2013, and carried over from the Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association to the new client group established by Silver Bay, Copper river and some other smaller producers.

Virtually all the companies rejoining the client group have existing chain of custody certifications for other Alaska products certified by the MSC.  Once they join the salmon certification client group, they will be able to add MSC salmon to their already existing chain of custody certifications.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/971431/Alaska-Salmon-Producers-Decide-to-Rejoin-MSC-All-Bristol-Bay-Sockeye-to-be-MSC-Certified

Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT – April 9, 2015
Coming up this week, Kodiak’s ComFish Alaska was jam-packed with info and toys for fishermen, and we find out how a tiny fish in Southeast is connected to the world economy. We had help from KMXT’s Kayla Desroches in Kodiak and KCAW’s Rachel Waldholz in Sitka.
http://www.kmxt.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6460

Pollock Fleet Pressed to Cut Salmon Bycatch
KUCB by Lauren Rosenthal – April 10 2015
This week, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has been looking at ways to cut back on the number of salmon that get scooped up by commercial trawl boats in the Bering Sea.
http://kucb.org/news/article/pollock-fleet-pressed-to-cut-salmon-bycatch/

Alaska sockeye salmon price could decline
FIS.COM – April 13, 2015
In view of the existence of Alaska sockeye salmon cans and frozen fillet surplus from last season, this salmon price is expected to drop this year.
http://fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&country=0&special=&monthyear=&day=&id=75748&ndb=1&df=0

North Pacific Council makes two big decisions
Deckboss – April 12, 2015
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, meeting in Anchorage, took two significant actions over the weekend.

First, the council voted to tighten limits on Chinook salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. Here’s the final motion, which passed by a vote of 10-0. Member Simon Kinneen, of Nome, was not allowed to vote due to a conflict of interest.

The council also voted 11-0 to approve pots as legal gear for taking sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska. Switching to pots could help fishermen frustrated over whales snatching fish off their longline hooks.
http://deckboss.blogspot.com/2015/04/north-pacific-council-makes-two-big.html

International

Norway Sees Record Seafood Export Values in 1st Quarter, with Volume of Cod Down, Salmon Up
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton April 10, 2015
Norway’s exports of cod and salmon showed strong results in the first quarter, says the Norwegian Seafood Export Council.

“March delivered a new sales record, making the first quarter of 2015 the best ever for Norwegian seafood exports. This is despite weaker exports in the first two months of the year, compared to the strongest months of 2014. The strong cod price is one reason for these results. After a late start to this year’s spawning season, marked by bad weather and a lot of time spent ashore, there has been a great deal of fishing activity in the period around Easter. This is confirmed by the increased quantities of exported Norwegian cod. In addition, salmon has had a strong quarter, partly benefiting from the weaker Norwegian krone against currencies like the Euro and the US dollar”, said Geir Bakkevoll, Communications Director at the Norwegian Seafood Council.

In many cases, volumes fell, and high prices and stronger currencies in the export markets made for high returns.

On cod for example, volumes of clipifish at 22,103 tons was down 14%, and mostly sent to Brazil.

For Frozen cod, volumes fell sharply, from  30,339 tonnes in the first quarter of 2014 to 11,556 tons in the first quarter of 2015.  Accordingly, prices have shot up 58% to NOK 24.5 per kg.

Fresh Cod volumes were down 12% year over year, but prices for cod rose by 30 per cent, haddock by 14 per cent and saithe by 48 per cent compared to the first quarter in 2014.

On salmon, production volume surged.  Measured by product weight, 93,600 tonnes of salmon were exported in March, which represents an increase of 18 per cent.

“Increased production in Norway, combined with the weakening of the Norwegian krone against the major currencies, contributed to a growth in value for Norwegian salmon. Although a considerable proportion of exports to Eastern Europe has effectively ceased, Norwegian exporters have found alternative markets for salmon”, said Paul T. Aandahl, industry manager for salmon and trout at the Norwegian Seafood Council.

There were increased salmon exports both to Asia, and to the US.

To Asia, volume increased 26% to 38,700 tons, with a 19% increase in value, showing declining unit prices.

To the US, volume soared 41% to 9000 tons, and values increased by 29%.

Overall, the biggest news from first quarter Norwegian sales has been the slowdown in cod prodution, and how this has led to globally higher cod prices.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/SearchStory/Salmon/971285

Federal Register

Fisheries Off West Coast States; West Coast Salmon Fisheries; Management Reference Point Updates for Three Stocks of Pacific Salmon
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/13/2015
NMFS issues a final rule to update management reference point values for Southern Oregon coastal Chinook salmon, Grays Harbor fall Chinook salmon, and Willapa Bay natural coho, as recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) for use in developing annual management measures beginning in 2015.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/13/2015-08394/fisheries-off-west-coast-states-west-coast-salmon-fisheries-management-reference-point-updates-for?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

International Affairs; High Seas Fishing Compliance Act; Permitting and Monitoring of U.S. High Seas Fishing Vessels
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/13/2015
NMFS proposes regulatory changes to improve the administration of the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act program and the monitoring of U.S. fishing vessels operating on the high seas. The proposed rule includes, for all U.S. fishing vessels operating on the high seas, adjustments to permitting and reporting procedures. It also includes requirements for the installation and operation of enhanced mobile transceiver units for vessel monitoring, carrying observers on vessels, reporting of transshipments taking place on the high seas, and protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems. This proposed rule has been prepared to minimize duplication and to be consistent with other established requirements.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/13/2015-08425/international-affairs-high-seas-fishing-compliance-act-permitting-and-monitoring-of-us-high-seas?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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April 13, 2015