In response to a June 28, 2013 letter from U.S. Senator Mark Begich expressing concerns about their seafood purchasing policy, leaders of Wal-Mart convened a meeting today reassure Alaskans that the retail giant is committed to selling fresh, wild Alaska seafood in their stores nationwide.
"In today's meeting, Wal-Mart gave assurances that they would work with Alaska to develop strategies to ensure Alaska seafood can still be sold in their stores," said Sen. Begich. "While I applaud Wal-Mart's dedication to sustainable fisheries, their reliance on sustainability certifications like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) criteria could have exclude Alaska salmon from being sold in their stores nationwide--even in Alaska."
Sen. Begich first learned of the certification issue in June and promptly contacted Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke expressing his concerns about the company's policy. In response, Duke offered to convene a meeting between Alaska officials including representatives from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), the Alaska Department of Commerce Commissioner, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Congressional Delegation and representatives from Governor's office.
"There were several positive developments from today's meeting," said Sen. Begich. "First, Wal-Mart has a better understanding of Alaska fisheries management and has decided that promoting Alaska seafood is the right thing to do. Second, Wal-Mart is committed to making make sure Alaska seafood is available to customers for years to come and will schedule follow-up meeting to discuss how to move forward with this commitment. This is great news for Alaska's jobs and economy and is also great news for consumers across the nation who will still be able to buy wild, fresh Alaska seafood."