MarinTrust urges attention be paid to blind spots between fisheries and aquaculture

The opening presentation of the IFFO – The Marine Ingredients Organization Conference in Lima, Peru on 24 October.

Traceability in the fishing value chain is an absolute necessity not only when it comes to compliance, responsible practices, and guaranteeing integrity and sustainability, but also in meeting market expectations and driving ethical sourcing while reducing the risk of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, according to participants in the workshop sponsored by MarinTrust, the global marine ingredient standard for responsible supply.

“We’re working to make industry operations more visible. There is a part of the value chain, sitting between fisheries and aquaculture, where there is a blind spot. We need to make the link between both more visible, with clear actions and responsibilities,” MarinTrust CEO Francisco Aldon said during the conference’s opening presentation of the IFFO – The Marine Ingredients Organization Conference in Lima, Peru on 24 October, attended by SeafoodSource.

Aldon pointed to the particular case of byproducts, which make up a third of the ingredients for fishmeal, as one such link between the food sector and the marine ingredients industry.

“Fish producers and fishmeal companies do not talk to each other. Currently, there is no incentive to provide info over this ‘waste,’ so the idea is to build a bridge between the two sectors and become a main actor for marine ingredients,” he said.

One way MarinTrust is looking to improve the connections between the two sectors is in working with partners such as the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability. Launched in 2017 and now an independent entity, GDST is a voluntary membership organization that sets industry-developed standards for interoperable seafood traceability, supported by over 100 businesses in 28 countries.

Serving as part of the panel, GDST General Secretariat Frank Terzoli said that over 80 percent of the information solicited for the creation of a traceability database is already collected in the supply chain in master data systems.

“Now you just need to put it all together,” Terzoli said.

According to Terzoli, traceability can be boiled down to simple terms: the “what” – how data is captured and transferred; the “who” in the supply chain is responsible for the data capture, and the “how,” employing one language to communicate what each part of the chain does.

“When we all speak with one voice, the message becomes very clear,” he said.

In 2021, MarinTrust launched its Seatrace pilot in the U.K., focusing on a variety of byproducts, to identify which key data elements are relevant to marine ingredients and map critical tracking events while looking to understand how they connect with each other.

In a second pilot in Peru, lasting five months and focusing on wild-caught fish, more than 70,000 metric tons of product were registered in TrazApp, an application endorsed by GDST that provides reports to the country’s navy and government while also making data available to the industry. Peru-based fishing company Pesquera Centinela and aquafeed company Vitapro, were participants in the pilot, and Terzoli said it helped align the two companies’ traceability systems for standardized data generation, usage, and management, from the former’s fishing efforts to the latter’s feed dispatch, principally used in shrim farming in Peru and Ecuador.

“GDST has migrated into its own entity, developing more products to go global, looking to clone systems in a variety of languages for turnkey solutions,” Terzoli said. “We know TrazApp works in Peru, why not Ecuador, Germany, South Africa, or wherever? We’re testing systems against the standards, after that, the supply chain, then the brands in order to mitigate risk [and] automatically audit the supply chain.”

The panel participants also discussed blockchain technology, which they described as an architecture that works well for secure data storage. But they said traceability systems do not necessarily need to use blockchain, and in some cases, implementing blockchain may represent a hindrance to more practical developments. However, all of the panelists said companies must push to digitalize their data.

“MarineTrust aims to help the industry become a leader in traceability, but we need to standardize language in order to facilitate that information throughout the supply chain. Innovation via digitalization is key. Excel sheets will be a part of the past,” Aldon said. “This is a collaborative effort between all parts of the value chain.”

Traceability must be implemented not just for fishmeal’s use in aquaculture and animal feed, but also for its application as raw material for pet food, cosmetics, and other uses the industry has found marketable, Aldon said.

In the second part of the MarinTrust workshop, Eva van Heukelom, partnership manager at Netherlands-based Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) – a public-private partnership between the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), NGOs, investors, food retailers, harvesters, farms, processors and distributors – outlined the initiative’s efforts in providing a common language and visibility for seafood sustainability and traceability.

GSSI seeks to deliver one clear reference to credible certification programs worldwide, for related sector companies to be able to avoid duplications and reduce costs, while providing non-recognized programs with clear guidance for improvements.

In the first half of 2023, GSSI will launch the Seafood MAP interactive platform, based on international guidelines such as the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the FAO, she said. Interested parties will be able to review a seafood firm’s current performance; self-reported, second- and third-party verification; GSSI-recognized certification, and real-time data.

In closing, Terzoli stressed the importance of defining a unified sector stance across all parts of the seafood industry.

“It’s important to speak with one voice and spread one single message. It’s how we can get funding and be heard. If you want to sustain the planet, we need aquaculture and marine ingredients,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Christian Molinari/SeafoodSource


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