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Major Retailer Lauded for Demanding Credible Fishery Certification

July 1, 2013

(Washington, DC) — The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) congratulates Walmart on its recent decision to limit purchases of Alaska salmon to that portion of the fishery that is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Walmart says that it does not consider other certification systems, including the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification used by some Alaska suppliers, to be consistent with the MSC. ELI agrees.

The RFM certification system purports to be based on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Management. A recent ELI analysis considered whether the Code of Conduct and its associated guidelines can legitimately be used as seafood certification standards. The ELI study reviewed the structure and operation of the RFM certification system and concluded that this system is not credible because it lacks a measurable, performance-based standard, and because it is neither independent nor transparent.

“Seafood certification cannot achieve its promise for protecting wild fisheries unless it is based on strong, measurable standards created through a transparent process without conflicts of interest,” said Read Porter, an ELI senior attorney. “We are pleased that Walmart recognizes the importance of credibility in this process and will seek certification by the Marine Stewardship Council. We hope that other retailers will reach the same conclusion.”