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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement from conservation groups who filed objection to MSC certification of southeast Alaskan salmon fisheries

Wild Fish Conservancy, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation received notice from the “Independent Adjudicator” on Tuesday that their Notice of Objection to the Marine Stewardship Council certification of the Alaskan Salmon fishery had been dismissed.
Nov 08, 2013

WILD FISH CONSERVANCY
PO Box 402 Duvall, WA 98019 • Tel +1 425-788-1167 • www.wildfishconservancy.org

RAINCOAST CONSERVATION FOUNDATION
PO Box 2429 Sidney, BC, V8L 3Y3 • Tel +1 250-655-1229 • www.raincoast.org

WATERSHED WATCH SALMON SOCIETY
1037 Madore Ave., Coquitlam, BC V3K 3B7 • Tel +1 604-936-9474 • www.watershed-watch.org

SKEENAWILD CONSERVATION TRUST

4505 Greig Ave, Terrace, BC V8G 1M6 • Tel +1 250-638-0998 • www.skeenawild.org

Contacts:  
Kurt Beardslee (Wild Fish Conservancy): kurt@wildfishconservancy.org, +1 425-788-1167
Aaron Hill (Watershed Watch Salmon Society): hillfish@telus.net, +1-250-818-0054
Greg Knox (SkeenaWild Conservation Trust): greg@skeenawild.org, +1-250-615-1990
Misty MacDuffee (Raincoast Conservation Foundation): misty@raincoast.org, +1-250-818-2136

For Immediate Release: Friday, November 7, 2013

Statement from conservation groups who filed objection to
MSC certification of southeast Alaskan salmon fisheries


November 7, 2013 --- Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC --- Wild Fish Conservancy, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, and Raincoast Conservation Foundation received notice from the “Independent Adjudicator” on Tuesday that their Notice of Objection to the Marine Stewardship Council certification of the Alaskan Salmon fishery had been dismissed.

“This decision is hardly surprising given the way the MSC decided to allow the certifying body to exempt the catch of several endangered salmon populations from the assessment, and the weak mandate of the MSC’s Adjudicators when considering objections like ours, which focused on that outrageous exemption.” said Greg Knox, Executive Director of the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust in British Columbia. “Alaskan MSC re-certification no longer provides any value in protecting endangered salmon from BC, Washington, Oregon, and California, and consumers need to be aware of that”.

The southeast Alaska salmon fishery intercepts endangered non-Alaskan salmon, a fact well-known to MSC. In March 2013, without informing the stakeholders or the public, MSC allowed the certifying body to exempt the southeast Alaska salmon fishery from a much more rigorous assessment by labeling those intercepted non-Alaskan fish as ‘Inseparable or Practically Inseparable’ (or ‘IPI’) from the true Alaskan salmon.  The Chinook (or ‘king’) salmon fishery is considered the most problematic, for its impacts on endangered runs. The report that MSC has accepted from the certifying body acknowledges thatover 96% of Chinook salmon caught in the Southeast Alaska fishery originatefrom rivers outside Alaska, many of which are severely depleted. Salmon from these endangered populations are routinely sold in the market as “wild Alaska salmon”.

In her reasons for dismissing the objection, Adjudicator Melanie Carter stated: “It may be that the objector’s real concern here is not so much with the [certifying body] but rather with the way in which this assessment had to take place under the applicable criteria, once the IPI status and exemption had been granted”.  Certifying bodies are companies hired by the fishery client to assess the fishery according to MSC’s criteria.

"This is actually bad news for the Alaskan brand, because it means that instead of relying on MSC to reduce the overfishing of endangered stocks in southeast Alaska, through certification conditions, we're going to have to engage the market directly”, said Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director of the Wild Fish Conservancy in Seattle. “We will do our best to minimize collateral damage to the Alaskan salmon fisheries that are well-managed , but our focus will have to be on protecting those endangeredstocks from further overfishing".

“This outcome is also bad news for seafood consumers who want to be able to trust that ecolabels -- like the MSC’s blue check mark -- will not be put on salmon from endangered populations”, said Aaron Hill, biologist with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society in British Columbia. “The MSC’s failure to address these overfishing problems in Alaska seriously undermines its credibility.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE REFER TO OUR ALASKA SALMON BACKGROUNDER.

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