Alaska As a World Leader in Conservation of Precious Seafood Species

It’s very fashionable at this point in the world’s history to claim to be a leader in preservation of our precious ecosystem. In fact, it has been used as a marketing tool for many companies. When several companies who were claiming to be producing organic foods were exposed as frauds a few years ago, it forced us all to look a little closer at what is the claim of an organization and what is the reality.

In the seafood world it is no different. Since the science-driven model for the sustainability of Alaskan fisheries came into being fifty years ago, the international community has acknowledged its superiority. For this reason, using the Alaskan sustainability standards to judge what the rest of the world has to offer is the only way to go.

Looking over a chart which lists two important bodies — the Marine Stewardship Council and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations — you can see that the Alaskan sustainability standards in play for over fifty years continue to outdo the attempts by either group, both of which are less than fifteen years old.

One of the biggest achievements of the Alaskan model is its enforcement of the Total Allowable Catch quotas (known by the acronym TAC). TAC figures, which limit the harvest of fish caught per season, are hard numbers in the case of Alaskan fisheries. The enforcement by state troopers and federal regulatory bodies has made it an overwhelming success. Have you noticed that halibut and salmon continue to stock the world’s menus? It takes a concentrated effort on the part of officials, one that the MSC and UN’s FAO still can’t match.

Another key component of Alaskan sustainability standards is the use of in-season management. When unforeseen cycles in weather and breeding occur, Alaskan law reserves the right to change the amount of fish that can be legally captured by the fisheries. This important element of state conservation laws puts Alaska at the forefront of environmental efforts at sea. It’s the reason the Alaskan seafood population continues to thrive, bringing us fresh, nutritious meals year after year.

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