Panel issues report on how to fight fishing fraud, improve seafood traceability

By

Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
March 13, 2015

A panel of industry experts has released a new report containing a suggested new framework for fighting seafood fraud and improving traceability worldwide.

An eight-person panel produced the report, titled, Recommendations for a global framework to ensure the legality and traceability of wild-caught fish products. The panel is made up of experts from environmental NGOs, including Steve Trent from the Environmental Justice Foundation and Michele Kuruc from the World Wildlife Fund, but also includes Bill DiMento, chief sustainability officer at High Liner Foods, and Petter Olsen, Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research.

“The objectives of the panel’s recommendations are to articulate a functional vision for a global framework to ensure legal and traceable fish products, to identify the key subcomponents of such a framework, and to suggest solutions — or at least paths toward solutions — to some of the problems that must be overcome to establish the framework as envisioned,” the panel wrote in the report.

Among the report’s chief recommendations:

  • Minimum information standards for wild-caught fish products should be adopted
  • Authoritative data sources, including a global record of fishing vessels, should be established or identified as soon as possible
  • A harmonized system of “landing authorizations” should be established to provide primary assurances of the legal origin of fish products
  • Multiple points of verification should be added throughout seafood supply chains
  • A transition to fully electronic traceability systems should be accomplished for all commercial wild fish products within the next five years
  • Support and capacity building must be provided to those producers who will need help with the transition to electronic traceability systems, particularly SMEs and commercial fishers in developing countries
  • A global architecture for interoperability systems should be developed
  • Where applicable, non-discriminatory border measures setting minimum standards for seafood traceability and proof of legal origin should combat trade in IUU products while facilitating legitimate commerce through a “risk-based, tiered, and targeted” approach

The report expands on each of these concepts with more detailed suggestions, including vessel tracking, robust systems for managing landings at port and other methods.

“The panel believes that the vision set out here is one that is both practical and urgently needed,” the panel wrote in its conclusion. “The panel urges concerted action toward the goals set forth by this set of recommendations, without delay.”

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