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PSPA applies for Alaska salmon certification

Four Alaska salmon processors are trying a new tactic for getting the blue Marine Stewardship Council sustainability label on their fish.

DILLINGHAM: There’s a development in the long battle over whose Alaska salmon gets the Marine Stewardship Council’s blue sustainability label. On July 7, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association announced it would seek the certification for all of Alaska’s salmon fisheries on behalf of four Alaska processors.

Audio Transcript posted below: 

Rough Audio Transcript:

Pacific Seafood Processors Association President Glenn Reed says his organization is applying on behalf of four processors who operate in Bristol Bay for certification hopefully by next year.

“Initially, I think our desire was to apply on behalf of all Alaska salmon fisheries. We’re likely to engage with some scientific expertise as we start this process to see if in doing so, what the likelihood is of that working out successfully, and see where that takes us. We may end up amending that, but to start out with, we’ll be applying for all salmon fisheries.”

Reed says the company is applying for certification on behalf of Trident, Alaska General, North Pacific and Peter Pan. Those companies were among ten who had applied to rejoin the existing Marine Stewardship Council client group for Alaska salmon, which is headed up by Silver Bay Seafoods, earlier this year. Negotiations between the two groups of processors have stalled.

“Our preference would have been to not have to go through the process of a second client group. That puts extra workload on the industry, it puts extra workload on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, at a time when resources are shrinking. So we’re going to try to do this in a way that minimizes costs and impacts, but we’re going to do it because we didn’t have another option.”

Reed says any other company will be able to join the PSPA client group by paying a share of the costs, which will include hiring a third party to do the sustainability audit, hiring a technical fisheries advisor, PSPA staff costs, and possibly other unknown expenses.

“It’s not an inexpensive thing to do to start out with. We’ll be asking MSC to help us offset those costs.”

Reed says the certification is just another way to ensure that there are markets for Alaska salmon.

“Well, I think the development of sustainability labeling, maybe over the last three years, suggests or perhaps has clarified, that there are some markets that want the MSC label, there are some markets that it’s not important to have a label at all, and there are some markets in the middle that have started to embrace the RFM label that we’re all supporting, we’ve supported and will continue to support.”

PSPA is applying to certify the salmon fishery for 2016.