Regulating and securing the complete seafood journey

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by Eric Lequenne

Fishermen at Work

Consumers buying a piece of fish in a restaurant or grocery store and wholesalers or retailers sourcing seafood for sale share a common interest. Both stakeholders want to see the complete seafood journey to understand as much as they can about their seafood. Everything from seafood origin to nutritional information, from seafood health to tangible measures of its sustainability and carbon footprint. Increasingly, regulators echo these demands, wanting to be able to tap into end-to-end seafood product data from across a product’s entire experience. And this supply chain visibility is key to securing the complete seafood journey. It’s also really only possible with product digitization and traceability technology.

From securing seafood safety to verifying seafood’s authenticity, from gaining transparency into seafood’s transportation and distribution footprint and optimizing its journey to market, to avenues for consumer loyalty and engagement, product digitization and traceability offers a wealth of interactive opportunities for brands – well beyond the scope of ensuring regulatory compliance.

Regulating and securing the complete seafood journey

Regulating and securing the complete seafood journey requires a multipronged approach. Regulators, industries, retailers and consumers are stakeholders in this “supply-and-demand” cooperation for end-to-end understanding of the seafood journey. Government regulations and food safety measures alone are not enough and require a way to trace, prove and measure compliance. Retailer and consumer demand also drive the charge for insight. 

A future of sustainable seafood and fishing practices and aquaculture rely on technology, such as traceability systems and data sharing and interoperable data. Of course safeguarding the marine environment, protecting human and aquaculture health and looking out for the long-term viability of the seafood industry contribute to its sustainability. But without the end-to-end insight traceability technology offers, it is impossible to reach the transparent and verifiably sustainable seafood supply chain that benefits everyone involved, from ocean or farm to plate.

Sourcing a sustainable seafood journey

Sustainable fishing means freedom from overfishing, bycatch, and destructive fishing practices. It also means that farmed fish and seafood is produced in ways that minimize environmental damage, in responsible conditions. To regulate the seafood journey, it is important to enforce strict fishing regulations, set catch limits, and implement practices that minimize harm to non-target species and habitats. And these regulations need to be accompanied by certification programs, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and DNV product certification for the aquaculture industry.

This is really just the beginning. All manner of food safety measures, quality assurance processes and actions against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing must also be implemented to be effective.

Traceability and transparency for the complete seafood journey

Regardless of the tactic for securing seafood safety, only traceability technology can offer transparency and insight into the complete seafood journey. Helping to do everything from root out and prevent seafood fraud, mislabeling and other deceptive practices, to tracking the seafood journey from catch to consumption, adding product digitization to seafood leads to end-to-end supply chain visibility. With traceability, stakeholders will be able to gain access to all kinds of data that accompanies the seafood on its full journey – from origin information to species identification, from care and handling practices to its distribution journey, i.e., how did this seafood arrive here at this moment, and is this product what it claims to be?

Collaboration for greater accountability for seafood: Data sharing and interoperability

Effective regulation and security of the seafood journey requires collaboration among all stakeholders, including governments, industry players, NGOs, retailers, and consumers. Data sharing and information exchange are critical for identifying challenges and finding innovative solutions. Ensuring compliance with legislative mandates, such the European Union’s Digital Product Passport and US FDA regulations, is one step – made easier with interoperable data standards and clear guidelines for traceability data. 

To be accountable to the stakeholders in the supply chain, making traceability easier incentivizes compliance. Seafood producers should be able to get a an easy answer to the question, “What do I need to do to export and sell seafood in X market?”. And then use traceability data to fulfill these requirements. 

Securing the long-term viability of seafood with traceability

The demand for seafood continues to rise globally. Concerns about sustainability, safety, and transparency in the seafood supply chain accompany this demand. From the source to the consumer’s plate, ensuring a well-regulated and secure seafood journey is essential for the preservation of marine ecosystems, the protection of human health, and the long-term viability of the industry.

Product digitization and traceability power the future of seafood. Be sure to visit the DNV and AKVA Group booth at Aqua Nor in Trondheim, Norway (22 – 24 August).

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