U.S. Senator Mark Begich is joining a growing list of fishermen and lawmakers calling on Wal-Mart to change its policy in regards to stocking sustainably caught salmon products.
On Wednesday executives with Wal-Mart will be in Alaska for a meeting with Governor Sean Parnell and his staff about sustainability labels. Recently Wal-Mart announced that it would only be stocking salmon products that carry the Marine Stewardship Council’s label of sustainability. The vast majority of the large salmon processors in Alaska have stopped supporting MSC in favor of a rival sustainability program sponsored by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. That means that very few, if any, products made with Alaska salmon are eligible to be sold by Wal-Mart, which is the largest retailer on earth.
Last year Wal-Mart pledged to undertake a review to see if the “Responsible Fisheries Management” program sponsored by ASMI meet the company’s sustainability criteria. That review is not yet completed… thus Wednesday’s meeting between the Governor and the Wal-Mart executives. Senator Mark Begich sent a letter to the new Wal-Mart President and CEO on Tuesday urging Wal-Mart to accept salmon products certified as sustainable under RFM program just like they do for products that carry the MSC label. Begich claims the RFM program ensures that seafood from Alaska is responsible managed and he asked Wal-Mart to accept salmon products sold under the program. In the letter Begich says Alaska’s commitment to seafood sustainability is second to none and he says it’s important for Wal-Mart to sell U.S. sourced, sustainable seafood regardless of whether suppliers choose to pay for a 3rd party label.