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AFDF will serve as clientship for MSC certification of Alaska salmon


February 22, 2010

The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) announced Friday that their Board of Directors voted in favor of serving as the client for maintaining Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for the entire Alaska salmon fishery. AFDF will immediately begin work with the independent certifier, Moody Marine International, to conduct the required annual audit for the fishery. Successful completion of the audit will ensure an unbroken supply of MSC-certified Alaska salmon.

AFDF takes over the role of client for MSC certification of Alaska salmon from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), which served as the client since Alaska salmon was first certified to the MSC standard in 2000. ADFG was in the unusual role of a government fishery management body serving as an MSC certificate holder, and indicated that it wanted to transition that role to an industry-based entity. AFDF will contract with a longtime ADF&G fisheries biologist to liaison between the certifier and ADF&G to compile information needed for the annual audit process. AFDF has stated that ADF&G has an excellent management program, some of the most knowledgeable and dedicated biologists in the world, and they look forward to highlighting these aspects of the state's exemplary sustainable salmon management.

Alaska salmon processors and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) had previously been in discussions with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), which had made a provisional commitment to take over the clientship from Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). However, new issues extending beyond the established MSC program structure were introduced by ASMI regarding client cost sharing. ASMI indicated the issues could have an impact on their state funding relationship, and the board voted to further postpone the decision.

An Alaskan salmon industry coalition then approached AFDF and requested that their foundation look at the potential for stepping in as client in order to prevent a lapse in the certification. The AFDF board initially voted in December to investigate whether there was sufficient industry support that favored AFDF to take over the clientship. After receiving commitment letters from the majority of the salmon processors, AFDF was able to move forward with a commitment to become the client, which removes further delays and uncertainty about management of the certificate. AFDF expresses appreciation for the consideration and support that ASMI has shown in this transition and believes that it is critical for ASMI and the Alaska brand to remain vibrant and strong. AFDF also expressed gratitude for the support from United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA), the National Fisheries Institute and the other Alaska fishing industry representatives that encouraged AFDF to take over the clientship to ensure an ongoing MSC certificate for Alaska salmon.

The Alaska salmon fishery was recertified in November of 2007. If the fishery successfully completes the current and subsequent annual audit as planned, the existing MSC certificate will be valid until November of 2012. To continue certification beyond 2012, the fishery will have to pass a recertification assessment and obtain a third five-year certificate.
There has been no break in the status of the current certificate in this client transition, and all Alaska salmon caught since the original certification in 2000 has been eligible to carry the MSC eco-label.

AFDF will maintain the scope of the current certificate so that it will continue to cover all Alaska salmon fisheries and species. They will take responsibility for conducting yearly audits and meeting the requirements of the MSC program, and will keep use of the certificate available to all Alaska salmon harvesters. AFDF, which currently serves as the client for the MSC-certified Alaska Pacific cod fishery, has indicated they will be establishing a volume-based pro rata cost sharing mechanism for use of the MSC certificate by members of the Alaska salmon industry.

AFDF's Executive Director, Jim Browning said, "We are proud that industry requested AFDF take over as client for this large and complex fishery, and we're happy to be able to provide this service as we enter our 33rd year in support of the Alaskan commercial fishing industry. Our experience with acting as client for the MSC certification of Pacific cod, which was just completed, will help us to do a good job of administering the certification process for the salmon industry as well."


On the Web:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Source of News:

Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF)


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Ketchikan, Alaska