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Sensible decision: Walmart agrees to sell Alaska salmon after all

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 12:00 am

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

A controversy about labeling Alaska salmon appears to be headed toward a resolution with a sensible decision by Walmart to not reject the sustainable fish supply from the 49th state.

The issue arose when the state and the fishing industry decided to change the independent group they used to provide a label certifying the sustainability of Alaska salmon.

Let’s remember that it is not the presence or absence of a particular label that makes something sustainable, but Walmart had first taken the position that Alaska salmon would not be sold in its stores without the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council, a London-based group.

After Alaska leaders raised objections to the news about Walmart, the company said it is proud to offer Alaska salmon in its stores, that there is strong customer demand and it is not dumping Alaska salmon.

The state is moving to another group that provides a certification of sustainability, Global Trust, recognizing that a third-party review is reasonable. Global Trust, based in Ireland, has projects in 25 countries, ranging from Newfoundland mussels to marine hatcheries in British Columbia.

Walmart officials said they are asking to meet with state officials and leaders of the Alaska fishing industry to explain the sustainable fisheries and management practices that govern the industry and the new certification process.

With the transition to a new certification system, Alaska has a chance to explain its long record of promoting sustainable seafood, based on the unique provision in Alaska’s Constitution that mandates management based on the principle of sustained yield.

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