Citing the importance of seafood as a global source of protein, increasing regulation, and creating greater efficiency in trade, the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) has developed a set of basic technical standards to allow for interoperability across seafood traceability platforms. The effort is intended to make global seafood traceability more reliable and more affordable for companies throughout the supply chain.
Because seafood is the most globalized sector of all food supply chains, it has an increased set of challenges – not just related to the complexity of its supply chains, but the broad array of sustainability obstacles across multiple geographies including labor issues, under-resourced management, and illegal fishing.
Among the companies supporting this effort are Whole Foods, Thai Union, Metro, The Fishin’ Co., New England Seafood, Orca Bay, and Sainsbury’s. Each signed an open letter highlighting the importance and need for voluntary standards.
“Voluntary industry standards for traceability are urgently needed to help companies ensure that the products they buy and sell come from sources that are legal, sustainable, and ethical. Technologies and systems already exist that make it possible to trace seafood products from ‘boat to plate,’ but they employ dozens (or even hundreds) of different approaches that prevent systems from exchanging data efficiently,” the letter stated. “That is why our companies are helping lead the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), bringing together more than five dozen companies from around the world and across seafood supply chains to create the first-ever global standards for seafood traceability.”
The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability is the culmination of an effort started seven years ago to identify ways to improve traceability in seafood. In 2013, The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans identified the need for an industry-driven global framework for seafood traceability. The Expert Panel on Legal and Traceable Wild Fish Products, which was established to respond to The World Economic Forum’s call for action, in 2015 produced the Recommendations for a Global Framework to Ensure the Legality and Traceability of Wild-Caught Fish Products, suggesting that the Global Dialogue be established.
The voluntary standard has gone through two years of technical work and is now being beta tested by the program and will be formally released during the GDST session on 16 March, 2020, at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.