Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Wants More Residents in Processing Jobs
Fishermen’s News – May 13, 2015
Alaska’s labor officials are working with seafood processors in hope of putting Alaska residents into many of the 1,600 seasonal jobs needed to process the state’s 2015 commercial salmon and pollock harvests.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2015/05/alaska-wants-more-residents-in.html

Two North Pacific Council Members Must Recuse Themselves on Halibut Bycatch Vote
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  By Peggy Parker and John Sackton –  May 13, 2015
Two of the eleven voting members on the council were notified yesterday that they will need to recuse themselves, due to financial conflict of interest, on the halibut bycatch vote slated for the first week in June.

Siimon Kineen, Vice President, Quota & Acquisitions Manager for the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation (NSEDC) and David Long, Captain and Fish Master for Glacier Fish Company, will be able to participate in all aspects of the Council’s deliberations relating to halibut bycatch, but must recuse themselves from voting. Both have the option to state for the record how they would have voted.

The notice came after a stepwise process investigating the action before the Council to determine which components of which fishery would be affected, then to cross-match financial investment as declared on the financial statements filed annually with the Council by each member with the threshold level of involvement of ten percent.

All seven of the industry members were investigated according to Lauren Smoker of NOAA’s General Council office in Juneau. The remaining four voting members are state representatives from Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, and the federal representative from NMFS. For each of the state and federal representatives, they may appoint — and often do — alternates to vote for them in cases of recusals or conflicting schedules. No alternates are provided for the governor-appointed industry members.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act states that “greater than ten percent interest” in the total harvest or sector of a fishery, the marketing or processing of the total harvest, or full or partial ownership of more than ten percent of the vessels using the same gear type within the fishery or sector of the fishery, would trigger a recusal.

A key factor in the investigation is how the council action, including all of its alternatives and options, is worded. In the case of halibut bycatch caps, the action’s preferred Alternative 2 includes options for all gear types and all species in the Bering Sea groundfish fishery.

That means that the harvest threshold is ten percent of the aggregate of all groundfish caught in the Bering Sea last year.  That gives each council member the best chance of not tripping the recusal trigger, because ten percent of the aggregate is a much higher threshold than, for instance, ten percent of the flatfish fishery harvest would be.

For both Long and Kineen, according to their financial statements filed last January, their interests in total harvested quota, exceed that threshold. The investigation used 2014 landings data.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/975423/Two-North-Pacific-Council-Members-Must-Recuse-Themselves-on-Halibut-Bycatch-Vote

Labeling and Marketing

Companies Seeking MSC Certification Make an Offer
Fishermen’s News – May 13, 2015
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.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2015/05/companies-seeking-msc-certification.html

Silver Bay, Copper River Client Group Rebuffs Bid of Other Alaska Processors to Join MSC
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – May 14, 2015
One day before the official start of this years Alaskan salmon season, Rob Zuanich, the managing partner for Silver Bay, and Executive Director of the Alaska Salmon Processors Assoc., refused the request of other Alaska salmon processors to join the MSC client group.

Most importantly, his seven page letter did not contain one word about cost sharing.  Yet cost sharing is the only basis on which the MSC recognizes the right of a client group to restrict new members who have paid for the management and oversight of a certified fishery, but are not currently members of a client group.

In this case, the processors seeking to join the client group offered to pay 100% of the costs going back to 2012.  This was not addressed in Zuanich’s letter.

The seven page letter (available here) was partly was a personal attack on Stefanie Moreland, who formerly was Alaska Governor Parnell’s Fisheries Advisor, but now is Government Relations and Sustainability Coordinator for Trident Seafoods. The letter also attacked ASMI, and ASMI’s efforts to defend its role in supporting the Alaskan Salmon brand.

Zuanich then goes on to say that because four companies in the group applying for membership are designated as four large processors eligible by Alaska law to serve on ASMI’s Board, the actions ASMI has taken in setting up the RFM certification and justifying why such a certification scheme may be good for Alaska was disqualifying.

Finally, there are a several factual mis-statements in the letter.

First, Zuanich says because of opposition in Alaska to continuing MSC certification in 2012, “the smaller salmon companies that financed and supported the certification were left without MSC certification for the 2013 salmon season and the dissatisfaction of some of their customers who were looking favorably on MSC certified salmon products.”

This is not quite true as the following companies were listed on the MSC certificate of Compliance dated Nov. 12, 2013 as eligible to sell MSC labeled salmon:

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

MSC Guidance allows first, that fish harvested from a certified fishery for up to six months before the certification date are fully eligible to use MSC chain of custody and logo, once the certification is final.  That meant that for 2013, salmon harvested after May 12, 2013 were eligible.

Furthermore, MSC made a special communication to the supply chain to allow sales of Alaska salmon during the 2013 season to go forward up the total chain, so long as companies had chain of custody for fish under assessment.

As a result, canned, frozen, or smoked salmon in 2013 could have been sold as fish “under assessment” in the summer meeting requirements of customers who want to only source MSC fish, or as fully certified MSC fish in the fall.

Secondly, Zuanich consistently singles out large processors in denying their request to join.  He says “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.”

Here is an excerpt from an email, one of many we got yesterday in response to our story on how the MSC is failing to enforce its rules against rogue fisheries clients.  Names have been removed to protect the source.
“I asked MSC how to rejoin and become a “client group member”.  (We are currently MSC certified for xx both as client group and chain or custody; also we are MSC certified for chain of custody but not as client group member for xx.)

MSC referred me to Robert Zaunich of Silver Bay.

I telephoned Robert Zaunich on four different phones including cellular and Sitka office multiple times and left phone messages with no response.

I emailed Robert Zaunich several times with no response.

I walked into Silver Bay’s office and personally put my business card with note “Please call me” on his desk, with no response.

I appealed to MSC and all they say is to go through Robert Zaunich.

I went to MSC booth at Brussels Seafood show and complained with no subsequent help.

It is obvious from this unsolicited email that Zaunich, as Executive Director of the ASPA, is completely uninterested and unable to meet the needs of small processors.

In short, the current Client Group is using the fact they disagree with ASMI’s visions for Alaska salmon marketing as a reason to keep individual companies from joining their client group.

Lastly, Zuanich says in his letter that ASMI and the Alaskan State Government undermined the PSVOA, the previous client by creating controversy within the organization.

He did not mention that most of the members of PSVOA fish for salmon in Prince William Sound, and when PWS pink salmon was removed from the MSC certification unit, the harvesters who control the board of directors of PSVOA did not see how they could continue being a client, with a substantial portion of their members barred from receiving the benefit of MSC certification.

Even more telling, Zuanich says that the whole issue can be resolved by 2016, and that after the season he is open to a structure where all Alaskan salmon producers can participate.  It seems like ASPA’s objections will melt away in September.

To refuse to follow MSC rules on certificate sharing  is a total violation of the trust put in them by MSC in awarding the certification certificate.

Unfortunately, this problem is not just confined to Alaska.  Although this Alaska dispute is critical due to the upcoming salmon season, many other clients discriminate or refuse to allow smaller processors to join an existing client group.

This is especially a problem in Russian salmon certifications, where small companies have been told either to pay exorbitant entry fees, or told they will not be admitted period.  In at least one case, the company holding the certificate no longer processes salmon, yet is making money by charging excessive fees for other companies who want to join the official client group.  When these issues were broached to the MSC, the reaction was ‘boys will be boys’.

This is why this problem is something that has to be resolved at the MSC Board level.  With no procedures in place or ability to force client groups to adhere to MSC standards in terms of certificate sharing, the MSC is in violation of its guidance documents.

We hope this is something that will be corrected very soon.

We think that the conditions for certificate sharing must be spelled out as part of the certificate issued to a client group, and failure to abide by those conditions should be grounds for suspension or removal of the certificate, or the transfer of the certificate to a new inclusive client group to manage chain of custody.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/975581/Silver-Bay-Copper-River-Client-Group-Rebuffs-Bid-of-Other-Alaska-Processors-to-Join-MSC

FYI’s

Deadline is Oct. 15 for New Fishing Vessel Regulations
Fishermen’s New – May 13, 2015
Many commercial fishing vessels harvesting in Alaska are already in compliance with new safety and equipment requirements effective in 2015 and 2016, and the US Coast Guard has a busy schedule ahead to help them meet those deadlines.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2015/05/deadline-is-oct-15-for-new-fishing.html

Press Release

Murkowski Defending Alaska-Caught Pollock Against Inferior Russian Product
Senator Pursues Answers on Pollock Labeling Policy

May 12, 2015
Senator Lisa Murkowski today reached out to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reasserting her push to change the legal market name of Alaska-caught pollock simply to “pollock.” The change would allow Alaskan-caught pollock to be differentiated by region and better distinguish the fish harvested in Alaskan waters from inferior Russian pollock passing itself off as “Alaskan pollock” in stores nationwide.
http://www.murkowski.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ID=76c0e78c-5a7f-4957-88f0-a2ca024dff5c

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
Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

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May 14, 2015