An important part of the marketing campaign for wild Alaska salmon is its certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as a fishery that uses sustainable fishing methods. The certification allows purveyors of Alaskan salmon to use the MSC logo in their promotions, which helps sales to consumers who are concerned about where their fish comes from and how it is harvested.

The MSC was founded in 1997 by the environmental organization World Wildlife Fund and corporate food giant, Unilever, but has since become an independent organization supported by processors and other segments of the seafood industry. The first fishery certified by the fledgling organization was the Alaska salmon fishery in September 2002.

Fishermen in the Copper River gillnet fishery say the MSC certification has been helpful to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Inst-itute in marketing their product. The fish is usually sold at higher prices in the natural foods supermarket chains, such as Whole Foods markets, which buy, sell and heavily promote wild salmon using the MSC logo.

In landlocked Wyoming, the company that runs the food concessions in the sprawling Yellowstone National Park offers only one salmon product on its menu – wild Alaska salmon. Since national parks are wild places and Yellowstone is the most visited national park in the U.S., the Xanterra Corporation decided its menus are perfect places to educate the public about the source of their food and that a wild park should sell sustainable food products.

Xanterra chefs buy as much locally grown organic produce as they find in the area as well as free-range chickens and other meats. Since salmon is now a popular, nearly ubiquitous menu item, two years ago Xanterra decided to buy only MSC-certified wild Alaskan salmon. Since the park’s 23 food service operations run from May to October and salmon has a limited run, the chefs buy frozen coho.

– Nancy Griffin