GDST holding first dialogue session in three years in conjunction with Seafood Expo Asia

The Sands Expo Centre in Singapore

The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) is hosting its first discussion sessions with members of the seafood industry in three years at the Sands Expo Centre in Singapore, in conjunction with Seafood Expo Asia, running 11 to 13 September.

The two workshops and the dialogue session on Monday, 11 September are a chance for the seafood industry and the GDST to discuss the progress it has made in creating an interoperable traceability standards throughout the seafood supply chain. 

The session marks the first time since GDST was relaunched as an independent entity in 2022 that the organization is hosting a dialogue with the industry. GDST Stakeholder Engagement and Communications and Dialogue Lead Richard Stavis told SeafoodSource, a lot has changed since then – especially given the world has had to navigate the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in the meantime.

Stavis said the organization's earlier dialogues were how GDST created its first standards and are a key part of the organization’s objective of creating an interoperable traceability standard for the seafood industry. They were devoted to creating a functional standard that would provide value to both the industry and seafood buyers.

“You can’t travel in a direction if you can’t see in front of you,” Stavis said. “It went to the industry side of things to take those needs, take those things that were identified, and translate them into things the industry can quantify, and that industry can deliver on. If you don’t stand in the right place, you can’t have the right perspective.”

NGOs and sustainability-focused organizations, for example, could have certain demands or goals for traceability, while the seafood industry might have a completely different idea of how to meet or report on those metrics. Bringing the two groups together to discuss what the seafood industry can do in terms of traceability and data, and what other entities outside of the seafood industry want out of data and traceability, helps the two sides find common ground.

Early on, as part of WWF, becoming a GDST member was an easier task, Stavis said.

“You could simply say ‘we’re committed to the GDST standard’ and you were still considered a part of the community,” Stavis said.

Since the organization became independent in 2022, GDST has shifted to a partnership model, with time-bound commitments from its partners, Stavis said.  GDST is also adapting to a changing regulatory environment regarding traceability, Stavis said. The Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) may be expanded in the U.S., and traceability requirements seafood importers must meet may be expanded as well. New European Union requirements like the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive will also change how seafood companies are required to report sustainability metrics – and how those metrics are supported by data that clearly demonstrate treaceability throughout entire supply chains. 

With the prior work by companies and the future requirements they’ll live under in mind, GDST is proposing a new foundation for its standards. 

“We’re proposing that we lock down the basic standard, because there are a lot of companies that are on the path to achieving the standard,” Stavis said.

Moving the goalposts would make things more complex and could discourage companies from pursuing traceability initiatives, Stavis said.

“But at the same point, we understand that things are evolving, so we’re proposing what I would call a multiple-frameworks model,” Stavis said. “The idea there is that we can create frameworks that will allow for data within specific areas of focus a priority for our community.”

During the dialogue session, two partners will propose new frameworks, Stavis said: MarinTrust will offer a data framework for marine ingredients, and Papua New Guinea Fishing Industry Association Sustainability Director Marcelo Hidalgo will be proposing a framework for social accountability for tuna vessels.

Stavis emphasized GDST is not a certification body that audits or holds companies to a standard. Rather, it is about self-reported data framework that provides a platform to build off of. 

“The whole idea of this, is you have the ability to develop this in a way to get the information across.”

"Traceability is about data, and being able to move it through the system,” Stavis said. “We’re not saying that the data is good, or the data is bad. That’s for industry to decide.”

Industry input, is why GDST is hosting its new dialogue session, he said.

“This is both a learning and a listening session. And we need this to reconnect with the stakeholders, because we need to make sure the standard evolves in a way that’s in tune with the needs of the industry,” Stavis said.

That means that the organization's ideas about establishing a core standard, or its idea to create frameworks, are ... 

Photo courtesy of FiledIMAGE/Shutterstock

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500