Here's the big announcement I received this morning.
Alaskans Welcome Major New Wal-Mart Investment in Wild Bristol Bay Salmon
Hundreds of Wal-Mart Stores Nationwide Feature Fresh Frozen Sockeye
Anchorage, Alaska—Wal-Mart’s decision to stock its stores with wild, sustainable salmon from Bristol Bay, Alaska, is earning high praise from commercial fishermen, Native organizations and conservation groups. This is the first time that Wal-Mart, the world’s largest seafood retailer, will feature Bristol Bay salmon in its sustainable fishery initiative.
“This is big news for Bristol Bay and Alaska’s salmon industry. It’s a perfect match between the world’s largest seafood retailer and the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery,” said commercial fisherman Fritz Johnson.
United Fishermen of Alaska, Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Association and Nunamta Aulukestai are among those who have commended Wal-Mart’s decision to source all of its sockeye salmon from Bristol Bay, saying it sends an important message to the public and business community that Bristol Bay’s sustainable, wild salmon are a high quality food worthy of investment.
These groups are running an ad in the Anchorage Daily News on Sunday recognizing Wal-Mart’s investment in Bristol Bay’s sustainable fishing economy, which benefits local communities, boosts state revenues from commercial fishing and offers Lower 48 consumers tasty, wild sockeye at affordable prices.
In their letter to Wal-Mart, representatives of the United Fishermen of Alaska, the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association and Alaska Independent Seafood Marketing Association wrote, “As Bristol Bay fishermen, we are proud of our sustainably managed, Marine Stewardship Council certified fishery and our healthy, wild salmon products. Your choice to buy our sockeye salmon represents an important investment in both the economic and ecological health of the Bristol Bay region.”
Producing the product at its source is significant. The wild sockeye salmon fillets are once-frozen and shipped from Bristol Bay in refrigerated freezer containers to Seattle, where they are warehoused and packaged for freezer truck delivery to Wal-Mart distribution centers and stores nationwide. This product line is a pilot project, which Wal-Mart indicates it will extend if sales are strong.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said Bob Waldrop of BBRSDA. “This will increase the demand for Bristol Bay salmon, boost fish prices, and keep more dollars in Bristol Bay.”
Wild salmon are the lifeblood of our Native villages,” said Terry Hoefferle, Executive Director of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of eight Native Village corporations in Bristol Bay. “Wal-Mart’s investment helps our local fishing economy, which benefits all of us and boosts our efforts to sustain big, healthy salmon runs for future generations,” he said.
In many parts of the world, wild salmon populations have drastically declined. Bristol Bay and its drainages are one of the wild sockeye’s last, best strongholds, annually producing roughly over 50 percent of the wild sockeye sold commercially in the United States.
In 2006, Wal-Mart made a commitment that within five years all of its wild-caught fresh and frozen fish for the North American market will be sourced from fisheries that meet the MSC independent environmental standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.
Conservation groups Earthworks and Trout Unlimited have also commended Wal-Mart for its decision.
“Consumers can feel confident that buying Wal-Mart’s Bristol Bay wild salmon reflects a sound environmental choice in seafood,” said Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks.
Bristol Bay sockeye salmon are in Wal-Mart freezers now, at 233 stores and will be available to consumers as long as supplies last. To be sure you’re getting the real thing, look for the label identifying them as wild salmon from Bristol Bay.