MSC Certification Updates – December 2011

Salmon Certification Update
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This is an update on the MSC certification of Alaska salmon assumed by AFDF in February 2010 from Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G). Since that time, AFDF has conducted site visits for the 2nd (2009), 3rd (2010) and 4th (2011) Annual Surveillance Audits (ASA) and has also scheduled the site visit for the 2nd Recertification for January 23rd – 25th, 2012.

Considerable progress has been made during this time towards closing out most of the 70 conditions that were written up for the fishery during its 1st Recertification in 2007. A “condition” is written for a fishery when any performance indicator scores below 80. AFDF, working closely with ADF&G, has closed out 51 conditions, leaving 19 outstanding conditions that mostly deal with hatchery/wild stock interactions.

It is now time to begin the Recertification assessment for the next 5 years of sustainability certification. As mentioned above, we have signed the Authority To Proceed letter with Intertek Moody Marine (IMM) and scheduled the site visit. AFDF has begun collecting the funds from participating companies for the 4th ASA and the Recertification assessment combined into 1 round of collection. Collecting for the 4th ASA and the Recertification in 1 round will actually save the participating companies money by reducing AFDF staff time and overhead costs.

Now some good news; since this is the 2nd Recertification (or the 3rd Assessment of the fishery spanning 12 years of being certified), MSC made the commitment at its July Board of Trustees meeting, that it would reimburse 75% of certifier costs for the 2nd Recertification for fisheries successfully completing this benchmark of sustainability. AFDF must collect the funds and pay the certifier, IMM, but would receive 75% of the certifier costs as a reimbursement from MSC and would rebate these funds back to the participating companies in the AFDF Salmon Coalition. AFDF will also be submitting a proposal to another entity, the Sustainable Fisheries Fund (SFF) for additional funding towards the recertification of the salmon fishery, and would rebate any additional funding received to the participants as well. In summary, it is the intent of AFDF to minimize the cost of retaining MSC certification for our members and participating primary processors.

Using the current 2011 salmon harvest listed on the ADF&G website, we have calculated a per million lb. figure needed to collect the amount of funds needed to cover the 4th ASA and the 2nd Recertification. Invoices will be coming right after Christmas and we’ll keep you posted on the reimbursement from MSC and the grant proposal to SFF. AFDF has worked hard as the client for this large, complex certification of sustainability; we’ve rebated any extra money collected, and this work is hopefully viewed as a service to our members and the industry.

Pacific Cod Certification Update

The 1st Annual Surveillance Audit is completed for Alaska Pacific cod is completed and was conducted simultaneously with the site visit for Alaska pollock and Alaska Flatfish.The certifier, also Intertek Moody Marine (IMM), and the assessment team comprised of Dr. Jake Rice, DFO – Atlantic Canada, Dr. Don Bowen, DFO – Atlantic Canada, and Dr. Susan Hanna, OSU faculty, attended two days of excellent presentations by AFSC staff in May. Although this certification has far less conditions than the salmon certification, close communication with the various gear types and sectors seems to be more difficult, so that certain relatively simple conditions are taking more attention than they should to get closed out. We need information from the different gear types on location and amount of lost gear, in order to meet one of the remaining conditions. The P cod 1st Annual Audit report is posted and available on the MSC website.

AFDF will begin contacting the P cod working group and collecting for the 2nd ASA after the first of the year; we are currently discussing site visit dates in late May to early June with the other clients for Flatfish and pollock. At-Sea-Processors Association (client for pollock) and Alaska Seafood Cooperative (client for Flatfish) have been extremely helpful and cooperative in planning and coordinating this multispecies site visit with AFSC. Thanks to Jason Anderson of ASC and Ed Richardson of APA for their efforts at setting up the site visit so that all participants save money by reducing certifier costs. AFDF will have a client report prepared for IMM prior to the site visit.

Issues to concentrate on are closing out the external review of the management structure for state waters condition, and collecting “lost gear” information for the Pot and Longline fisheries. Lost gear forms will be available for “A” season 2012 as they were for the last half of 2011.

Remember, the Association of Sustainable Fisheries is the voice for all MSC certified fisheries around the world and our membership represents well over half of all MSC’s certified tonnage. So when we speak with a unified voice, we’re more likely to get positive results at the policy level with MSC. ASF is currently working on a website and will be hiring a consultant to increase the effectiveness of the organization.

By James Browning