But with questions over the group’s rationale — including what Sen. Mark Begich called a “shifting goal post” on the definition of sustainability — and increased costs to buy into the program, many Alaska fisheries have begun switching to another certification program.
That decision had ripple effects. Big buyers such as Wal-Mart, the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Defense found that their own policies recommended they buy and serve only fish with the MSC “ecolabel.”
On Tuesday, Begich called numerous stakeholders to a U.S. Senate hearing on seafood sustainability certification, hoping to explore ways the future certification efforts could benefit the seafood industry and consumers.
Some change has been coming. This week, the U.S. General Services Administration updated its guidelines to remove the third-party certification as a guideline for purchasing food for federal facilities. Previously, the guidelines recommended that any seafood purchased should have the MSC certification. The change gives agencies such as the National Park Service and Department of Defense more leeway in purchasing seafood.
A hearing on the effects of Arctic climate change Friday shed light on the plight of dozens of villages across Northwest Alaska.
Senator Mark Begich met with tribal council representatives, scientists and federal officials in Downtown Anchorage, and took testimony about the effects of erosion, rising sea levels and extreme weather patterns. The information is both scientific and anecdotal.
Melanie Bahnke, president of Kawerak, Inc., said her corporation has collected eyewitness accounts from hundreds of hunters and fisherman who’ve spent their lives in bush Alaska. They report higher shorelines, softer ice and stronger storms. Thomas Ravens, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage, said Northwestern Alaska is particularly sensitive to climate change: On the low, wet Yukon-Kuskowkwim Delta, Ravens said even a 40 cm sea level rise could create a brackish wet sedge meadow reaching 7 km inland.
Last Saturday, in a ceremony at the American Legion Post 16 that has been done thousands of times since 1776, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, presented a combat soldier with a group of medals honoring his sacrifice and service — with one difference.
Sgt. Randy Clifford, U.S. Army, First Cavalry Division (Air), 1st Battalion, 9th Regiment, earned his medals decades ago.
“It is truly my privilege to stand here today and deliver what’s an unbelievable group of medals 42 years after you last saw your medals,” Begich said.
Along with the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Vietnam Campaign Medal, Clifford received the Bronze Star for heroism under fire, the Purple Heart for his wounds in action and the Air Medal with seven devices, signifying that he flew at least 125 combat hours.