Alaska/Pacific Coast
Halibut users want significant bycatch reduction
Appeal contends incidental harvest of halibut in BSAI groundfish fisheries must be reduced to avoid conservation emergency
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – April 29, 2015
A diverse group of halibut users is appealing to Alaska’s congressional delegation to support their appeal for significant reductions in the incidental catch of these fish in order to allow directed halibut fisheries to remain open and viable.
http://www.thecordovatimes.com/article/1518halibut-users-want-significant-bycatch

NOAA Sea Surveys Planned to Obtain Crucial Management Data
Fishermen’s News – April 29, 2015
NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center has another busy summer season of surveys planned to gather data needed by fisheries managers to determine sustainable fishery harvest levels.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2015/04/noaa-sea-surveys-planned-to-obtain.html

Politics

Proposed changes to US fishing laws pit Young against conservationists
Alaska Dispatch News by Patrick Whittle, Associated Press – April 29, 2015
PORTLAND, Maine — A plan to update federal fishing laws has sparked a debate among fishermen and conservationists about whether proposed changes will undo years of work to rebuild key fish populations.
https://www.adn.com/article/20150429/proposed-changes-us-fishing-laws-pit-young-against-conservationists

Board of Fisheries seat open again after Ruffner rejection
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – April 29, 2015
Gov. Bill Walker has yet another appointment to make to a shorthanded Board of Fisheries, and this time the Legislature won’t be in the equation.
http://www.alaskajournal.com/Alaska-Journal-of-Commerce/May-Issue-1-2015/Board-of-Fisheries-seat-open-again-after-Ruffner-rejection/

Labeling and Marketing

Silver Bay Appears to come into Compliance with MSC Rules on Certificate Sharing
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [News Analysis] by John Sackton – April 30, 2015
When the majority of major Alaska Salmon Processors decided to rejoin the MSC Certification program for Alaska Salmon, an open question remained about how the existing client group, led by Silver Bay and Copper River Seafoods, would accept new members.

The salmon fishery certificate, valid from 2013 to 2018, was issued under MSC’s rules for certiication version 1.3.

That version states

“If there are other eligible fishers, the Certification Assement Body (CAB) shall require the client to Prepare and publish a statement of their understanding and willingness for reasonable certificate sharing arrangements.

-If other eligible fishers are identified in the unit of certification, the CAB shall make sure that, immediately following the release of the Public Certification Report a statement describing the certificate sharing mechanism is submitted for public posting on the MSC web site.”

Finally the MSC also requires that the CAB assist with certificate sharing.

“If the certificate has other eligible fishers and/or a certificate sharing mechanism the CAB shall, within thirty days of receiving a request to share the certificate, facilitate the client’s and other eligible fishers’ engagement in good faith efforts to enter into a certificate sharing agreement.”

These procedures were not followed by the Alaska Salmon Processors Group that is the current client.

When they took over the certification, InterTek posted a change of client notice on the MSC website on May 14, 2014, stating that the new client, the Alaska Salmon processors Group, assumed all the certificaton requirements agreed to by the previous client, inlcuding posting a certificate sharing letter.

That letter, as required by the MSC, was posted on July 5, 2012, and stated “Upon Marine Steward Council (“MSC”) certification of the Alaska salmon fishery, the PSVOA 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 expenses associated with obtaining and maintaining the MSC certification”

Yesterday, after receiving numerous requests from the MSC and from the additional processors who would like to participate in the certificate sharing, the group posted a new Certificate sharing document that says:

“The costs associated with the fishery assessment, on-going surveillances and client management shall be fractionally shared by the individual client group members in relation to the total rounds pounds of salmon harvested by the fisher and/or purchased by an entity in the 2012 fishery as a percentage of the total round pounds of salmon harvested and/or purchased by all client group members in the 2012 fishery. Fishers or entities entering the client group after the April 10, 2014 formation of the client group shall pay the same proportionate share they would have incurred if members upon formation of the predecessor client group by Purse Seine Vessel Owners Association. Such retroactive payments shall be redistributed to the then existing client group members or retained by ASPA to fund future costs.

The original 2012 Client Group consisted of six companies. These companies were eligible for MSC salmon chain of custody in 2013.

10th & M Seafoods
E. C. Phillips and Son
Silver Bay Seafoods
Copper River Seafoods
International Seafoods of Alaska
Ekuk Fisheries

An additional 4 companies were added on June 20, 2014, according to MSC documents. These companies included:

Double E Foods
Extreme Seafoods
Hoonah Cold Storage
The Auction Block Company

Since these companies joined the client group after it had formally taken over the existing certificate, it is assumed that they paid the cost allocations as were then in effect.

With the publication of the new sharing document that brings the Alaska Salmon Processors Group back into compliance with the terms of their certificate, it appears that the client group is establishing a mechanism that will allow additonal members to join. They have had requests from up to eleven additional companies including Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan, Trident, Icicle, Alaska General Seafoods, Leader Creek and North Pacific Seafoods, Kwikpak Fisheries LLC, Triad Fisheries and Yukon Gold, and reported but not confirmed, the Seafood Producers Cooperative.

However, Stefanie Moreland, director of Sustainability and Government Relations for Trident, the new document  “does not appear to address certificate sharing. It only describes cost sharing within the client group. It defers to “ASPA organizational documents” for changes to the client group. Non-members do not have access to ASPA organizational documents so we still seek information on criteria or conditions of membership.”

Meanwhile, in their letter to the Alaska Seafood Processors, the companies applying to join said “MSC representatives committed to work with us so that our salmon products would have MSC certification for 2015 and encouraged our companies to apply to join the ASPA client group, as the most expedient path to certification.”

In their new 2.0 standard, the MSC goes out of their way to insist that their goal is to have all interested parties share in the certificate who wish to do so.

For this reason it appears likely this technical issue will be resolved in a timely manner. Otherwise the MSC risks reputational damage.

MSC is strongly urging the current client group not to be obstructive.

If they continue to refuse there are several other options that could be workarounds.  First, a number of the companies seeking to join the client group, but not all, already have valid chain of custody certificates for sockeye salmon from Alaska.  These certifcates appear to be as valid as any other chain of custody certificates issued by the CAB, which is the only qualified agency to do so.  The MSC certification is for all the salmon fishermen in Alaska, who can sell to any company.  Those companies that have a chain of custody certificate are able to sell to companies requiring MSC chain of custody for their use of the label.

Secondly, the processors could create a new client group.  This is not a preferred option because of the unnecessary cost and expense.  But the MSC could make this option quickly viable.   For example, the MSC could state that because the fishery itself is already certified, they will recognize the new group for the entire 2015 salmon season, once the new group has completed its review of the current assessment.  This is standard practice for the MSC in many fisheries, to back date the effective date of products available for use with the MSC logo.  In this case, the argument to do so is even stronger, because it is obstruction by a client group in opposition to MSC policy that is at stake.

Of course, creating a duplicate group would waste time and money, has nothing to do with sustainability or conservation, and exposes a glaring weakness in the MSC system, where private clients can subvert the public resources used for the certification in an effort to get a short term business advantage.  In this case the entire mechanisms of the MSC are devoted to recreating the certification, taking away time, resources, and credibility from its core mission of advocating that customers buy sustainable seafood.

When that message is contradicted by weaknesses in the MSC’s own system, it is time for stronger reform.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/973779/Silver-Bay-Appears-to-come-into-Compliance-with-MSC-Rules-on-Certificate-Sharing

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Ocean Perch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/30/2015
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch in the Western Aleutian district (WAI) of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) by vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery. This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2015 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific ocean perch in this area allocated to vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/30/2015-10120/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pacific-ocean-perch-in-the-bering-sea-and?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud Action Plan Recommendations 14/15 Identifying Species “At Risk” of IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/30/2015
The National Ocean Council Committee on IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud (NOC Committee) is seeking public input on principles to be used in determining seafood species “at risk” for IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/30/2015-10125/presidential-task-force-on-combating-illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-iuu-fishing-and-seafood?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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April 30, 2015