Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Sablefish RFM Certification Report Ready for Public Comments
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – November 11, 2016
Alaska’s Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) program has completed a draft assessment report for their sablefish (black cod) commercial fishery and today opened a 30-day  public comment period.

Comments should be sent directly to Jean Ragg of SAI Global/Global Trust at before December 11, at 5 p.m. PST.

The Assessment Team appointed to the fishery assessment will review any comments submitted by stakeholders and determine if clarifications, up-dates or modifications to the report are required.

The RFM Certification Body will ultimately determine the certification of a fishery consistent with accreditation requirements and RFM rules.

The Alaska Pacific Sablefish commercial fishery includes all Pacific black cod caught in Alaska’s 200-mile EEZ by all gear types: longline, pot, and trawl under federal and state management. The fishery client for RFM certification is ‘Eat on the Wild Side’/Fishing Vessel Owners Association.

This document is a reassessment for the sablefish fishery first certified to the Alaska RFM Program, on October 11th 2011.

The full report can be found here.

Bristol Bay drift gillnetter meeting set for Seattle
Cordova TimesNovember 10, 2016
Harvesters in the Bristol Bay drift gillnet fleet will get an update on a branding pilot project and expansion designed by Rising Tide Communications in Anchorage on Nov. 18 at their fall member meeting at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.

SE Alaska humpy forecast up for 2017
Cordova Times – November 10, 2016
A strong odd year for Southeast Alaska pink salmon is predicted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, with a point estimate of 43 million fish.


Reactions to Trump victory trickle in from seafood industry
Seafood Source by Cliff White – November 10, 2016
Seafood companies and industry groups have begun to issue statements and responses to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

New Priorities and Annual Guidance Document Sets the Agency’s Course for 2017
NOAA Fisheries by Eileen Sobeck – November 7, 2016
Enthusiasm for the future, celebration of partnerships, appreciation for a job well done, sustainable U.S. seafood and the people who help make it happen are what makes NOAA Fisheries tick. This past year, we celebrated the success of 40 years of fisheries management under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. It was well worth highlighting the fact that U.S. fisheries are among the most sustainable in the world.


Kachemak Bay has witnessed massive die-offs of sea stars and other species. What’s going on?
Alaska Dispatch News by Erin McKittrick – November 13, 2016
JAKOLOF BAY — I came to the beach to count sea star corpses. You might know them as starfish — stiff, five-pointed bodies like a child’s drawing of a star, crayon-bright. About 10 species once were common in the intertidal zone here, with different colors and shapes and numbers of rays — hundreds of which had been dismembered and scattered over the beach, as if a monster had stalked through before us, tearing their bodies apart.

Canada announces National Oceans Protection Plan
Trudeau says federal government plans to invest $1.5 billion in effort
Cordova Times – November 10, 2016
Canadian officials have announced a new marine safety plan that they say meets or exceed international standards, supported by commitments to indigenous co-management, environmental protections and science-based standards.

Labeling and Marketing

Sockeye Salmon Market Steady During Strong Inventory Holdings
TradexFoods – November 14, 2016
3-Minute Market Insight:
Sockeye Salmon raw material prices continue to remain stable, indicative of a steady market on finished goods for the time being.

MSC Standard Nears GSSI Benchmarking Approval
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [News Analysis] by John Sackton – November 11, 2016

The Marine Stewardship Councils wild fishery standards, which is the most widely used fishery certification scheme in the world, will be part of the GSSI benchmark.

The MSC indicated interest in being benchmarked to the GSSI standard in January of 2016.  In April of this year, a formal agreement was made between GSSI and the MSC to go forward.  The initial reviews of the standard were conducted by July, and an office visit was made on July 26th.

The MSC reviewed and approved the report of the office visit, and the conlusions of the benchmarking were submitted to the Benchmark Committee for Review in September.

The committee determined that there was a consensus that the MSC standard would meet the GSSI requirements, and they announced that they would go forward to public consultation.

The public draft report has now been released, with comments taken until December 8, 2016.   Following the public comment period, the GSSI committee will review the comments, make any changes deemed appropriate, and then forward the recommendation to the GSSI steering Board.  The benchmarking process should be complete early in 2017.

This is a hugely significant development in the rationalization of seafood ecolabels.  Although the MSC and WWF participated in the development of the GSSI standards, they lost some of the arguments over how scoring would be handled, and it was not certain that MSC would agree to participate.

However, in early January, they did agree to go ahead.

The two schemes that have been approved as meeting the GSSI Benchmark so far are the ASMI’s responsible fisheres scheme, and the Iceland responsible fisheries scheme.

The Global Aquaculture Alliance’s BAP aquaculture certification is currently in process.

The MSC is likely to be the 3rd scheme officially recognized by GSSI.

The inclusion of the the Marine Stewardship Council in the GSSI program is likely to go a long way towards accomplishing the goals that the GSSI backers- major retailers and their seafood industry partners, and the FAO- hoped to accomplish.

With the MSC onboard, there is no reason that the GSSI benchmark for seafood sustainabiiity cannot achieve the same level of acceptance as the GFSI – global standards for food safety.

This means that a variety to schemes – from national certifications to expensive private schemes to quasi-public insitutional schemes like Iceland’s, all can compete for business on a level playing field.

It helps guard against one of the biggest problems with ecolabeling, which was that it shut out of the market many fisheries in poorer countries that don’t have the management resources available in Western countries like the US, Norway, and New Zealand.

The GSSI will now provide a way forward for robust, but cost effective schemes, that in fact meet the high bar of the evolving FAO fisheres standards.

In the benchmarking report for the MSC, GSSI auditors recognized that MSC met both the core requirements which are needed to achieve certification, and that the MSC also had additional procedures in place for governance that reflected some of the ISEAL requirements.

But the key utility of the GSSI benchmark is that like food safety, it is a pass/fail standard.  All schemes that meet its benchmark are judged to be equally competent to meet the FAO responsible fishing and ecolabel guidelines.

This leaves plenty of room for competition among ecolabel schemes to appeal to seafood buyers who want to use various brand and marketing strategies.  But it corrects the problem retailers created when initially many sought to apply only a single private standard to their purchases.

The US government rejected this approach for federal foodservice contracting, and rejected it for national park food vendors.  In Germany as well, governments can now legitimately purchase against the GSSI standard and not violate anti-competition and bidding laws, which was another key goal of GSSI.

The Marine Stewardship Council is to be commended for taking this step, and for being willing to compete on the strength of its brand and achievements alone, without continuing to claim that only its standard can achieve responsible seafood sourcing.

The recognition of the MSC scheme by the GSSI, and the willingness of the MSC to engage with the GSSI, will help make seafood sustainability a foundational principle of retail buying for the long term.  It truly is a major sustainability milestone.



Obama to appoint Behnken to International Pacific Halibut Commission
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – November 13, 2016
In a final round of appointments before his second and final term comes to a close, President Barack Obama announced on Nov. 3 his intent to appoint Linda Behnken to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

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Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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November 14, 2016