From: Mary Pemberton, Associated Press
Published October 5, 2004 12:00 AM

Alaska Bering Sea Pollock Gets Eco-label

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The largest fishery in the United States has received final approval for an eco-label that tells customers the seafood they are buying is environmentally friendly.

The Marine Stewardship Council gave Bering Sea pollock the final OK recently, ending a nearly three-year evaluation of the $750 million-a-year fishery off Alaska's coast.

The review looked into stock levels, environmental effects of the fishery, and how effectively it is managed.

The certification is good for five years and subject to annual audits.

The MSC is a global, nonprofit organization established to find a solution to the problem of overfishing. Scientists estimate there are 11 million tons of Bering Sea pollock. In 2004, fishers were allowed to harvest a little less than 1.5 million tons.

"I think the fishery proved itself to be sustainable and well-managed," At-Sea Processors Association spokesman Jim Gilmore said.

The industry group sought the eco-label in January 2001 at the urging of European seafood buyers, Gilmore said. In Europe, consumers are more likely to buy products with eco-labels.

Several environmental groups opposed granting an eco-label for pollock. One of their major concerns was the effect the huge fishery is having on Steller sea lions, which eat pollock and other fish.

Steller sea lion populations off Alaska's coast have plummeted more than 80 percent in the past 30 years, but the reasons for the decline aren't known.

The Bering Sea pollock fishery is the 10th fishery to receive MSC approval. Alaska salmon was the first U.S. fishery to get MSC certification.

Source: Associated Press

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