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Seafood Traceability

July 16, 2012

FishWise’s Mariah Boyle just put out an excellent white paper on seafood traceability efforts by nonprofits, governments, and companies.  It is comprehensive and concisely written.  I highly recommend it for those marine policy wonks out there.  The report can be found here.

A few excerpts to consider:

Traceability is defined as the ability to systematically identify a unit of production, track its location, and describe any treatments or transformations at all stages of production, processing, and distribution (Seafood Traceability in Canada Report, 2009). For seafood, full traceability also entails that a consumer unit of seafood at a restaurant or retailer can be traced throughout the supply chain back to its point of harvest by a vessel or on a farm. This is important for food safety, ensuring the legality of the product, and for verifying sustainability. Full traceability is achieved through proper documentation and record keeping, along with proper handling protocols during processing, shipping and receiving to ensure that product can be tracked accurately…

Seafood is a globally traded commodity, and language and technological barriers hinder the use of standardized electronic systems for full traceability within supply chains…

Limitations in resources, database expertise, and IT staff often allow for IT systems to become antiquated and not effective for comprehensive traceability. For smaller companies, significant costs may also hinder progress…

Often, full traceability cannot be achieved because product is not traceable at points of mixing such as processing, auctions, or transhipment at sea. Traceability is also problematic with small fishing vessels in open access fisheries and when documents are falsified to conceal illegally caught or mislabeled product…

Efforts in seafood traceability by governments, companies and organizations are varied and are often not developed in coordination.

From here, I’m really hoping FishWise or another organization would put together case studies of how traceability arose in other commodity supply chains. What were the drivers? Profits? Regulators? Social concerns? Technological innovation?

I’d also be very interested in learning how traceability schemes can raise the revenues of seafood firms. It seems assumed that traceability schemes will raise costs, and yet today very sophisticated traceability schemes have been implemented as a means of increasing competitiveness in many economic sectors.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2012 2:53 pm

    Dear Sir, You might have noticed that a high tech system that was covered is ScoringAg


  1. The Seafood Supply Chain « Breaching the Blue
  2. Traceability of the seafood supply chain | Sea Monster

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