Certification group says Prince William Sound salmon meets MSC guidelines

Fishery may soon join other Alaska regions in carrying the eco-label.

Fisheries certification group MRAG Americas on Thursday recommended that the controversial Prince William Sound salmon fishery be certified as sustainable under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) guidelines, which paves the way for the region to join the rest of the Alaska salmon fishery in its eco-label status.

The MSC requires posting of this final report for 15 working days to allow stakeholders who disagree with the determination to file a statement of objection to the determination conclusion.

In 2015, the Alaska Salmon Processors Association (ASPA) and major processors representing a majority of the production, represented by the Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA), reached an agreement for the latter to formally take ownership of the MSC certification, but the latter chose to hold off on pursuing PWS certification pending additional research on the interaction between hatchery and wild salmon.

Last summer, the group began pre-assessment evaluation of the fishery against the MSC standard, and determined to go forward with seeking the certificate based on a new assessment tool developed by the MSC called a scope extension, according to MRAG Director of Fishery Certification Division Amanda Stern-Pirlot.

The scope extension allowed for MRAG to use several of the indicators already met by the remainder of the Alaska salmon fishery, and focus its certification process specifically on Prince William Sound's unique areas of concern: mainly its hatchery supplementation.

If no objections are lodged, the Prince William Sound fishery will be certified on May 12, and the certification will apply to the 2017 harvest, Stern-Pirlot told IntraFish.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) projected the commercial common property fish (CCPF) harvest for Prince William Sound at 63.71 million salmon this year, more than four times the 13.7 million fish harvested in 2016.

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