Alaska's Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) sustainable seafood certification program has certified its first fishery operating outside of Alaska.

Assessment of the Pacific whiting fishery off the coasts of Washington and Oregon began Jan. 9, RFM Program Manager Jeff Regnart told IntraFish.

The Pacific whiting, or hake, mid-water trawl fishery covers US federal exclusive economic zone (EEZ) waters off Washington, Oregon, and California.

Products containing Pacific whiting harvested from Jan. 10, 2022 forward are now eligible to be sold with the RFM eco-label.

MRAG Americas conducted the independent assessment for the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative, in partnership with the entire US whiting fishery.

Companies that operate in the Pacific whiting fishery include American Seafoods, Glacier Fish Co. and Trident Seafoods.

Once a fishery is certified to the RFM fisheries standard, its certificate is good for five years. Each certified fishery must complete annual surveillance audits.

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The US allocation for Pacific whiting in 2022 was set at 402,646 metric tons for the 2022 season.

The Canada portion of the Pacific whiting fishery has not entered the RFM process. Its certification currently comes from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The RFM program, which has been around since 2010, was offloaded in 2020 by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) to a nonprofit foundation outside of ASMI known as the Certified Seafood Collaborative (CSC).

Two of CSC's board members remain ASMI board members as well, and ASMI promotes the program on its website.

Several major companies, including Trident, American Seafoods, Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan Seafoods, Glacier Fish, Beaver Street Fisheries and Rich Products, already hold RFM certifications.