Governor Sean Parnell’s Speech at Boston Seafood Show Luncheon 12th March 20012.
I am honored to be here with you. Alaska’s goal is the same as yours: to ensure a healthy, sustainable supply of wild seafood for generations to come.
Since Alaska’s statehood, well before the availability of any eco-label program, we Alaskans committed ourselves to manage our seafood sustainably for all generations. It’s in our DNA. Since 1959, the Alaska State Constitution has mandated management of the fishery resources on the sustained yield principle – the only state in the country with such explicit conservation language. Sustainable fishing is part of every Alaskan’s heritage because thousands of families make their living from the sea. In fact, fishing and processing employ more people than any other industry in Alaska.
As responsible stewards, families know they must sometimes put aside short-term gain. All participants in Alaska’s fisheries are committed to obeying strict laws, careful harvesting methods, accurate reporting, and adhering to scientific data in order to protect both the fish and their livelihoods.
So with Alaska’s longstanding leadership and commitment, it’s no surprise that we would be one of the first, just after Iceland, to put forth a choice in certification. The responsible fisheries management certification model is based on the most recognized and internationally accepted set of guidelines, written by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization or FAO.
While many consumers are already aware of Alaska’s deeply held commitment to sustainability, we do understand the benefit to your companies of an independent third- party who can certify the responsible management of our fisheries.
As the stewards of Alaska’s fisheries, we agree to provide independent third-party certification that fits within your Corporate Social Responsibility framework. The FAO-Based model does just that.
The FAO documents used provide a balanced framework for fisheries eco- certification. The FAO-based certification has formal International Standards Organization or ISO Accreditation:
• FAO-based certification is currently the only formal ISO accredited fishery certification;
• ISO confirms accurate representation and use of the FAO documents as a standard; and
• It confirms that an accurate, credible and objective assessment has been made relative to the standard.
We have also removed any logo licensing fees.
Unfortunately, our effort to provide choice in credible certification alternatives became embroiled in the debate over who defines sustainability for the market. This debate over who defines sustainability is evolving into an issue of market access and governance where one party seeks control, which concerns me greatly.
Those of us responsible for managing our fisheries, along with our fishing industry, cannot, as a matter of principle and form, tolerate a situation where a single private entity, on the basis of a changeable private standard, has sole authority to decide who can sell seafood to the public and who cannot.
We need reasonable options for the marketplace to avoid a monopolistic lock where consumers and fishing communities lose. In an unregulated monopoly, consumers and fishing communities lose on choice, quality, and price.
For these reasons, we are providing, along with Iceland and others, this FAO-based alternative certification model.
We hope you will agree with us that the FAO-based model we are providing will meet the spirit and the goals of your Corporate Social Responsibility programs.