Partnering to Improve Seafood Traceability

Imagine a vessel captain pulling into port with a cargo hold full of fish. The captain reports the vessel’s identity to the authorities, and his or her entire fishing voyage can be instantly viewed on a screen. The location in which the fish was caught can be verified right there at the dock. The fish can then be labeled and tracked throughout the supply chain all the way to the consumer. That level of transparency was unimaginable just a few years ago. That’s because step one in documenting the location and conditions under which seafood is harvested relies primarily on self-reporting by vessel captains. Despite all efforts to ensure integrity and legality of seafood from port to plate, the invisible nature of fishing on the ocean left a traceability gap at the head of the supply chain. Our new partnership with Trace Register will make it possible to close that gap and provide electronic traceability not just from port to plate, but from ocean to port as well.

Trace Register is a web-based tracking system that allows producers, buyers, marketers and regulators to share information about seafood products at every step in the supply chain. Under the new partnership, Trace Register customers will be able to link Global Fishing Watch data directly to their product to help validate reports of where their seafood was caught.

We’ve always felt that one of the best uses for Global Fishing Watch is helping the good guys prove they’re doing the right thing. Being able to demonstrate where they’ve been fishing the moment they arrive in port can elevate a fisher’s brand-name and increase the market for his or her product. “Harvesters will be able to use Global Fishing Watch data to provide assurances they operate in a legal and responsible manner,” Trace Register CEO Phil Werdal said in a press release. “Seafood processors, distributors, retailers, foodservice providers, and ultimately the consumer, can verify their seafood was legally and responsibly produced.”

Carrie Brownstein, global seafood quality standards coordinator at Whole Foods Market, said traceability is critical to the retailer’s commitment to providing quality products to their customers. “This tool demonstrates that we’re on the brink of a technological revolution that will bring fishing activity out of the dark and create heightened visibility, benefitting the industry, the consumer and our oceans,” she said.