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Alaska Fishermen to Walmart: "Why Didn't You Keep Your Promise to Congress?"

More rallies promised in 2014 as Walmart misses end-of-year deadline to end discriminatory policy and acknowledge sustainability of Alaska salmon

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Alaska fishermen are pledging to take further action to hold Walmart accountable for its ongoing failure to keep its promise to revise by the end of 2013 its outdated and misguided policy that is shutting out a large proportion of sustainable Alaska salmon from its stores.

On September 24th 2013, Walmart pledged at a U.S. Senate Hearing to review by end of year its policy to only purchase seafood certified sustainable by MSC, a private European organization that much of Alaska's salmon industry voluntarily severed ties with due to concerns about the organization's increasingly high-priced and questionable business practices.

However, with the end of the year having arrived, the largest grocery supplier in the U.S. has provided no public explanation as to why it continues to refuse to purchase sustainable Alaska salmon—a decision which is placing at risk countless hard-working jobs in Alaska's seafood industry, which contributes an estimated $16 billion to the national economy. As a result, "Alaska Salmon Now", a grassroots collection of fishermen, consumers, and other representatives of the Alaska seafood industry that has advocated for Walmart to do the right thing via public rallies, social media campaigns, and other efforts, is promising further action unless Walmart reverses its policy.

"It is unacceptable for Walmart to make a promise to Congress and then not keep it," said John Renner, Vice President, Cordova District Fisherman United. "Walmart has rightfully praised sustainable Alaska salmon, yet their misguided 'MSC-or-nothing' policy continues to negatively affect real American workers and consumers. Walmart's policy is bad for America, Alaska, and health conscious individuals everywhere. All we want is for Walmart to do what's right and recognize what countless capable and qualified organizations already do: that the gold standard for sustainability is here in Alaska."

Recent decisions by the US federal agency General Services Administration (GSA) and Sodexo, the primary supplier of food services to the US military, to modify their "MSC-only" policies leave Walmart as the only major purchaser of seafood in the US with such a policy.

"MSC-only policies are unfairly hurting American jobs and consumers and playing into the hands of a monopolistic self-interested organization," said Greg Gabriel, Executive Director of the Northwest & Alaska Seiners Association. "Alaska has proven time and time again that our fisheries have been sustainable long before MSC, and retailers should be proud to provide sustainable Alaska salmon to their customers."

In changing their policies, GSA and Sodexo recently joined with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) based Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification, the State of Alaska, and most of the rest of the world in  recognizing that Alaska's salmon fisheries are sustainably managed.

Aside from Walmart, traditional buyers continue their purchases of Alaska salmon with or without the MSC endorsement, leaning instead on the decades-long track record of Alaska's sustainable management program—which includes extensive local, state, and federal oversight-- and the RFM endorsement. 

Worldwide, Alaska has consistently been recognized for its sustainable management success. Since its inception, MSC had consistently recognized the excellence and effectiveness of Alaska's fisheries management system, ranking it above programs in British Columbia and Russia and calling it "among the most comprehensive and intensive of any fishery in the world". The EDF Seafood Selector named Alaskan salmon "Eco-Friendly and Ocean Best". The National Marine Fisheries Service's most recent annual report to Congress on the status of U.S. fish stocks indicates the overwhelming majority of stocks are healthy, however only a handful are MSC certified.  The Pew Charitable Trust and Ocean Conservancy stated in a recent report that "success in managing and rebuilding America's fisheries ranks among the leading achievements of marine resource management in the world."

For Media Inquiries, please contact John Renner at 1-907-632-2536 or Greg Gabriel at 1-907-394-4604. 

About Alaska Salmon Now!
"Alaska Salmon Now!" is a diverse grassroots organization comprised of American consumers, hardworking fishing families from across Alaska, and other interested parties who are demanding Walmart reverse its controversial sustainability policy that has hurt American jobs and consumers seeking access to the world's gold standard of sustainable seafood, Alaska salmon.

SOURCE Alaska Salmon Now!

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