GDST relaunched into independent entity with paid membership model

The GDST logo.

The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) has reorganized and been relaunched into a permanent and independent entity with a paid membership model.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) convened the GDST as an ad hoc, NGO-facilitated process in 2017, and the two organizations will remain engaged as stakeholders and supporters with the new GDST, according to a release.

“The new GDST is open for business!” GDST Executive Director Greg Brown said.  “With the strong support of companies and stakeholders worldwide, we are ready to expand our global partnerships to engage the future of seafood traceability.”

Between 2017 to 2020, more than five dozen companies participated in drafting the global seafood traceability standards GDST was convened to create. The standards, launched in 2020, focus on traceability for responsible seafood production and trade. So far, more than 100 supply chain companies and traceability system vendors in 30 countries have adopted or publicly endorsed the standards, and with its relaunch GDST plans to continue to transform traceability practices across the globe.

“The re-launched GDST will play a vital role in the future of our industry, helping ensure that all seafood can be traced to trusted sources of supply,” Thai Union Group Director for Sustainability and GDST Steering Committee member Adam Brennan said. 

The transformation to an independent organization also carries a shifting focus towards industry participation and multi-stakeholder involvement. The new GDST will continue work on the traceability standards, which were recently updated to version GDST 1.1.

The changeover will also result in the end of unpaid memberships in the GDST program. After 1 October, being a part of the GDST will require signing up for a paid membership.

“Only companies that actively join the new GDST organization will be listed as GDST members and [be] given access to GDST processes and services,” the GDST said on its website.

According to the GDST, the new memberships will be “flexible,” and more companies and stakeholders will now be able to join the standards – including for-profit solution providers and government agencies. Previously, those entities were “invited to join the dialogue advisory group,” according to the GDST. Membership costs will vary depending on membership tier, from USD 150 to USD 6,000 (EUR 153 to EUR 6,139) per year.

As the standards focus on the seafood supply chains, GDST will also examine expanding the standards to address climate change and labor conditions, and will continue to offer tools and services that aid the adoption of the standards. Lastly, the new GDST will continue to develop and promote mechanisms that verify compliance with the standards, allowing it to become a leading industry voice for traceability regulations.

“The launch of the GDST as a full-scale, industry-led organization is an important and exciting milestone. IFT looks forward to continuing to work with the GDST and its partner companies,” IFT Global Food Traceability Center Executive Director Bryan Hitchcock said.

The GDST Standards are already a key reference point for groups such as the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, GS1, Lloyds Register Foundation, the Marine Stewardship Council, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Planet Tracker, the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT), the U.N. Global Compact, the World Benchmarking Alliance Seafood Sustainability Index, and the U.N. FAO.

“WWF is proud to see the GDST emerge with strong industry support from its roots as an NGO initiative,” WWF Transparent Seas Senior Manager David Schorr said. “This is the kind of industry leadership that is needed to secure a sustainable future for seafood.”  


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