Pacific cod certification expected soon

Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2010

ANCHORAGE - Harvesters in Alaska's multi-million dollar Pacific cod fisheries are anticipating Marine Stewardship Council certification by mid-January, a move that would enhance sales of the versatile white fish.

The MSC seal on seafood verifies that the fish came from a sustainable fishery, an increasingly important factor for European sales, said Larry Cotter, executive director of the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, one of several major entities engaged in the Pacific cod fishery.

The MSC sustainability label is also important to an increasing number of U.S. retailers, including Walmart and Whole Foods, which have committed to buying seafood only from sustainable fisheries. MSC, based in London, has the world's main certification program for sustainable seafoods.

Premium prices for MSC-certified Pacific cod could be 3 percent to 5 percent higher than non-certified fish, according to one seafood trade publication.

"Europe is big on MCS products and it is important for pollock. I assume it will be important for cod as well, so I would say it's a plus for us," Cotter said.

The pollock fishery in Alaska is carried out with long line, pot, trawl and jig gear. Millions of metric tons of the fish are harvested annually, and it is marketed in a variety of products worldwide, including fillet cod products and salt cod in parts of southern Europe and Brazil.

The final draft report written by Moody Marine was posted on the MSC Web site Dec. 24. Anyone wishing to file objections to certification had 15 working days.

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