Alaskan sole and flounder fishery seeks MSC ecolabel –

Alaskan sole and flounder fishery seeks MSC ecolabel Published:  10 October, 2007

Rupert Howes

THE Best Use Coalition, a newly formed Alaska flatfish industry fishing cooperative is now seeking certification of the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea & Aleutian Islands flatfish fisheries under the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The flatfish fishery, which encompasses a number of flounder and sole species, seeks to join an growing line of Alaskan fisheries including Alaskan pollock, salmon, halibut, sablefish and longline cod that are already certified as sustainable according to the MSC standard.

“Flatfish like sole and flounder may have a lower profile, but they are an important part of Alaska’s groundfish catch, worth $163 million in 2006, third in value behind pollock and cod,” said John Gauvin, a fishery economist who works on science and management issues for the flatfish industry in Alaska and is leading the effort for the Best Use Coalition. “More importantly, flatfish are managed by the same strict, science-driven standards that have made Alaska fisheries known as among the best managed in the world. Catches are held at or below scientific limits, none of these stocks are overfished under the National Marine Fishery Service guidelines, and fishing is strictly regulated to prevent excessive bycatch of other species.”

In light of the significant steps to improve the sustainability and management of the flatfish fisheries of Alaska, industry members are eager to have the fishery evaluated against the MSC’s standard for well managed and sustainable fisheries.

Rupert Howes, Chief Executive welcomes the fishery’s decision: “I’m delighted to see the Alaskan flatfish fishery entering full assessment. This is a significant decision by an important fishery.”

Through the scientifically robust and transparent approach offered by the MSC’s certification process, the flatfish fisheries will be assessed for the stock levels, impact on the marine environment and the management plan for the fishery.

The assessment will be carried out by independent certifier Moody Marine. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.