Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT – March 10, 2016
Coming up this week: lots of news about hatchery fish, Frankenfish and tsunami fish; also, a request to stop dragging in Unalaska Bay. All that and more, coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KDLG’s Hannah Colton in Dillingham, KRBD’s Leila Kheiry in Ketchikan, Northwest News Network’s Tom Banse in Newport, Oregon, KUCB’s Greta Mart in Unalaska, and APRN’s Liz Ruskin in Washington D.C.

Laukitis, Peterson nominated for North Pacific council
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – March 9, 2016
Gov. Bill Walker submitted nominations to fill two seats of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on March 9.

Island herring fishery headed for record year
Times Colonist by Carla Wilson – March 10, 2016
The dock at French Creek Seafood has been open around the clock and boats are unloading thousands of tonnes of silvery herring in an abundant year for the Strait of Georgia fishery.


Genetics study confirms fish in OPH bound for Bristol Bay
KDLG by Molly Dischner  – March 10, 2016
A recent study said that no matter how far from shore an Area M fisherman fishes, the majority of his sockeye catch in the Outer Port Heiden section is likely to be headed to Bristol Bay.

Labeling and Marketing

Alaska’s RFM Certification Program First to be Aligned with GSSI Benchmark
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton – March 10, 2016
At the recent Boston Seafood Show, the GSSI (Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative) announced that the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Responsible Fisheries Management Certification had met all the required GSSI elements after independent review and their application was now open for public comment.

Under the GSSI process, there is now a 30 day public comment period, after which the GSSI Board will review the comments and make a recommendation as to whether to award the RFM Program recognition as complying with the GSSI benchmark.

On 4 March 2016 GSSI’s Benchmark Committee recommended Alaska RFM to be recognized, after the Independent Experts found Alaska RFM to be in alignment with all GSSI 183 Essential Components in the areas of governance, operations, and fisheries management.

Josie Foster, Independent Expert Section A&B said “I am very pleased with the way ASMI have embraced the GSSI requirements. They have worked exceptionally hard to achieve this and the processes that I saw at the pilot now all have evidence to verify the effective operation. Much of this evidence, such as internal meeting minutes, could not have been sent to me so it was essential that I visited the office. Having carried out my review of the ASMI Governance and Operational Management, I am pleased to state that they are in alignment with every GSSI Essential Components and a number of GSSI Supplementary Components. In light of this, I would have no hesitation in recommending ASMI for recognition within the GSSI.”

Kevin Stokes, Independent Expert Section D said “ASMI has made substantial changes to the RFM since the pilot benchmark study and evidence has been supplied to allow a clear evaluation against the GSSI Components. In my view and as summarised in the analysis and findings against all Components, the RFM Ver. 1.3 is in alignment with all Essential Components and most Supplementary components. I therefore recommend ASMI for recognition within the GSSI.”

The GSSI benchmark is divided into four programatic areas: Governance; Operational Management of Certifications; Aquaculture Standards; and Fisheries Standards.

Each element has a long list of required benchmarks that the certification scheme must achieve, or it cannot pass the GSSI benchmark test.

Unlike schemes that are designed for improving fisheries, if a scheme fails any of the required elements, those have to be rectified before a certification will be accepted as meeting the GSSI framework.

Because GSSI has been developed in a competitive landscape, some of the existing NGOs and Scheme holders have claimed that the GSSI standard would not be robust, or would set off a race to the bottom.

After looking at the actual GSSI requirements, such a fear is laughable.

Under governance, for example, there are 68 different requirements, of which 49 are essential, and 19 are considered ‘supplemental’. The supplemental requirements may be put in place by a scheme owner, but will not affect whether the standard meets the GSSI benchmark or not.

The RFM program met all 49 essential requirements, and 14 of 19 supplemental requirements. To give a flavor of what the supplemental requirements entail one is whether the scheme has an assessment of broader environmental issues that fall within the standard, such as carbon footprints for example, and whether the scheme has a stated plan to measure progress against environmental goals. Clearly this may be important to an NGO, but it is not important to the performance of a fishery management standard. The ones where the RFM program was not in alignment were primarily those which support aspirational NGO goals, driven by an explicit environmental mission statement.

On Operations, the RFM program met all 47 requirements, and 2 out of the 4 supplemental requirements in this section.

On Fisheries Management, there were 87 essential requirements and 28 supplemental ones.

RFM met all 87 essential requirements, and 10 out of the 28 supplemental or aspirational requirements.

The 18 aspirational requirements RFM did not meet fell into areas such as financial support for small scale fishers including help with access to funding sources; whether small scale fishers on transboundary stocks were protected throughout the range of the stock; and also aspirational measures to monitor how well developed ecosystem fisheries management was in a given area.

The other striking thing about the GSSI standard, and one reason why it may be overwhelmingly adopted by retailers once they understand it, is its simplicity and transparency. Every comment on every item is recorded, and a trail of comments from the scheme owner, the certifier, the board, and the public is fully open and documented, referenced to the particular GSSI requirement and available on the Internet.

This is a far more transparent system than the MSC for example, where scoring on a particular issue is buried in hundreds of pages of documentation, and there is no easy way to follow the history of scoring or comments about a particular issue, except to research it within many different documents from the assessment report to comments to an adjudicators report and all the supplemental documentation.   The MSC is transparent however, in providing access to the history of fisheries assessments.

The group behind GSSI has done an amazing job of developing specific markers that reflect the requirements of the FAO documents regarding ecolabeling and responsible fisheries and aquaculture.

As a result, because the GSSI standard is so robust and transparent, it will provide an effective vehicle to induce competition, lower cost, and rationalize ecolabel schemes so as to prevent green washing, but also allow for efficient and robust certifications.

Jürgen Matern, of Metro Group, and one of the founding retailers behind GSSI, said that for Metro, every certification for seafood will have to be compliant with GSSI, or it cannot be sold in their stores.

Other retailers who are supporting GSSI, including Kroger, Ahold, Loblaw’s, Delhaize, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, Marks and Spencer and others, have the critical mass to bring this benchmarking to life.

At this point, the debate over GSSI should no longer be academic, as the first schemes have got to the near final stage of the approval process.

Other schemes have also applied, and it is hoped that once buyers see how robust and transparent the GSSI process actually is, they will quickly make the same announcements as Metro, and put behind us the era of hundreds of different sustainability schemes for seafood, all competing for scarce resources of buyer time, support, and brand awareness.

For more info, please go to the GSSI website to download the public documents on RFM and the GSSI benchmark.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/11/2016
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amounts of the Aleut Corporation pollock directed fishing allowance from the Aleutian Islands subarea to the Bering Sea subarea. This action is necessary to provide opportunity for harvest of the 2016 total allowable catch of pollock, consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area.

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/11/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season apportionment of the 2016 Pacific cod total allowable catch allocated to trawl catcher vessels in the BSAI.

Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2016 Tribal Fishery for Pacific Whiting
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/10/2016
NMFS issues this proposed rule for the 2016 Pacific whiting fishery under the authority of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP), the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and the Pacific Whiting Act of 2006. This proposed rule would allocate 17.5% of the U.S. Total Allowable Catch of Pacific whiting for 2016 to Pacific Coast Indian tribes that have a Treaty right to harvest groundfish.


Trashy Salmon Pop Up Around Town
KMXT by Kayla Desroches – March 4, 2016
The next time you walk into a Kodiak business, you may notice a flailing salmon out of the corner of your eye. That’s one image that now decorates trashcans around town. It’s part of fisherman Bruce Schactler’s plan to turn historic canning labels into beautiful garbage cans – a project which he launched after he noticed the same trend in Oregon.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail:; Website:
Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

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March 11, 2016