McDonald’s prefers that the Alaska At-sea Processors Association stay with MSC Certification?


Here is something of interest from Intrafish (21 Feb 2014):

Alaska Pollock to stay with MSC – citing requests from customers as the motivation for  pollock suppliers to stay with MSC

This is interesting.  I would have thought that with the  growing market acceptance for the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) scheme, Alaska fisheries like  pollock would eventually move towards RFM certification. But it seems that this is not the case. The article suggests that the adherence to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Fisheries Standard is a result of “requests from customers“.

But lets dig a little more deeply into this  “requests from customers” statement.

Just over a year ago in a blog post (A Fairy Story: McDonald’s, Marine Stewardship Council, Filet O’Fish and the Certification of New Zealand hoki) I blogged the relationship between MSC, McDonald’s and Alaska Pollock! I quoted David Jolly’s New York Times ‘green’ blog  that asserted McDonald’s partnership with MSC:

“The most tangible effect of the sustainability imprimatur is that, beginning next month, Filet-O-Fish wrappers sold in the burger giant’s 14,000 American restaurants will display the Marine Stewardship Council label. McDonald’s also announced on Thursday that it would roll out a new promotional menu item in February called Fish McBites — think chicken nuggets, only made from pollock — that would also carry the council’s label.”       …

“The world’s biggest fast-food company announced last week that its sourcing of fish for the United States market, which is entirely wild-caught Alaska pollock, had been certified by the council, perhaps the best-known organization promoting sustainable fishing around the world.”     …

“McDonald’s did not have to do much to comply with the council’s requirements.  Susan Forsell, McDonald’s vice president for sustainability, said that under the company’s own in-house sustainable fisheries program, which began 10 years ago, 100 percent of McDonald’s fish is already purchased from fisheries that have received stewardship council certification. In Europe, where McDonald’s products rely on both the Alaskan pollock and sustainable European fisheries, the council’s logo already appears on the company’s packaging.”

Hoki & McDonalds

Filet-o-fish illustration and caption that featured in the story by Micheal Field. US stops using hoki in restaurant meals. Southland Times. 29 Jan 2013

If we join the dots – we can see that the Alaska At-sea Processors Association, by sticking with MSC, are accommodating their customer’s sourcing policy. Since that customer is McDonald’s (who not only use a “shangload” of pollock in their Filet o’Fish  but also a year ago announced a partnership with MSC) I am sure APA don’t mind too much.


Below is the text of the Intrafish article (Alaska pollock producers sticking with the MSC) [Friday 21 Feb, 2014]

Requests from customers motivates pollock suppliers to stay with MSC

“The At-sea Processors Association (APA), the client for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BS/AI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA) pollock certifications, said Friday it will move forward with the second reassessment of the fisheries under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) program.

The BS/AI Alaska pollock fishery is currently certified through December 2015 and the GOA pollock fishery through September 2015.

In September, the MSC certified the Russian Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery, creating a competitive source of MSC pollock.

APA has accepted a proposal from MRAG Americas to conduct the fisheries’ reassessments and will continue to extend the license to all Alaska pollock producers on a cost-sharing basis.

 APA Executive Director Stephanie Madsen cited requests from customers as the primary reason for continuing with the certification.

“The Alaska pollock fisheries first became certified in 2005, but they have been sustainably managed for over 35 years. Sustainability certifications are an independent validation of that fact,” she said. She added that some Alaska pollock customers have developed marketing programs based on the MSC eco-label and asked that APA maintain the certification.

Madsen also gave a shout out to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Insititute’s certification program, considered a competitor to the MSC certification, at least in Alaska.

“The Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska fisheries are also certified under the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management Program (RFM), which is based on the FAO’s international guidelines for sustainability and ecolabels,” he said. “We support both programs to allow for customer choice.”

The Alaska pollock fisheries recently passed its second annual audit under the RFM program and nearly all Alaska pollock producers are certified for RFM chain of custody.”

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