Alaska’s Senior U.S. Senator has introduced legislation that would prohibit federal agencies from using seafood eco-labels. On Wednesday Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced the “Responsible Seafood Certification and Labeling Act”.
The bill would specifically prohibit federal agencies from using 3rd party non-governmental certifications when deciding what seafood can be sold in National Parks or purchased by the federal government. In a prepared statement the Senator claimed that the Marine Stewardship Council and NGO’s like them have political agendas, lack transparency, and use their certification schemes to inappropriately influence federal and state fisheries management.
Last year most of the major seafood processors that operate in Alaska pulled their support for the MSC certification of Alaska’s salmon fisheries as sustainable. They instead threw their support behind the “Responsible Fisheries Management” certification supported by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. MSC is the largest of the seafood eco-labels and many markets require MSC certification. This has led to speculation that many products made with salmon from Alaska will not be sold by some retailers and will be unavailable in many markets, including markets in Europe where MSC is the accepted standard.
Senator Murkowski’s new legislation also stipulates that federal agencies can’t reference seafood eco-labels when developing regulations, policy or guidelines. This year Alaska’s commercial salmon fishermen hauled in over 265-million fish and it’s estimated that 1 in 7 Alaskans are employed in the commercial seafood industry.