Santa Cruz, California – As illegal fishing and human rights abuses continue to pose ecological, social, and economic risks, building transparency into supply chains is a necessary step on the path to seafood sustainability.
Digitally tracking information attached to seafood increases transparency and provides an indispensable advantage when a pandemic disrupts supply chains. But tracing the world’s seafood is made more complex because data moving along the supply chain are often paper-based.
To tackle this daunting challenge, the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT) – in collaboration with 35 experts from seafood producing governments, certification bodies, and processors across the globe – just made adopting electronic traceability easier. The newly-released Traceability Principles and associated Pathway fill in a gap missing from existing traceability guidance: they are comprehensive in that they ensure tracing seafood will maximize ecological, social, and economic benefits that can be derived from sharing data.
For instance, capturing seafood data from harvest to port to plate can support ecological goals, such as strengthening fisheries management; social responsibility goals, including improving the welfare of seafood workers or reducing the risk of human rights abuse; and economic goals, like making export compliance and overall operations more cost efficient.
“Robust traceability alone will not create favorable human rights outcomes,” said Lori Bishop, social responsibility division director at FishWise. “However, a program designed to include stakeholders, such as fishers rights organizations and government labor representatives, can help to advocate for and defend workers’ rights.”
Implementing electronic traceability requires collaborating with the global seafood community to learn what works and doesn’t work. The guidance that SALT and its committee of experts published took more than a year to create and illustrates that knowledge-sharing approach. “The Traceability Principles reflect SALT’s ability to bring people together and create innovative and holistic solutions for seafood where gaps previously existed,” said Sara Lewis, traceability division director at FishWise. “Although they were developed primarily for seafood harvesting nations, the Principles and accompanying Pathway are extremely relevant to anyone working on traceability efforts in our community—from industry to civil society groups,” Lewis continued.
Now with targeted guidance available, governments and others can design, carry out, or improve an electronic traceability program that addresses more than one need – greatly boosting global efforts to reach sustainable seafood goals. Dr. Megan Morikawa, the Global Director of Sustainability at Iberostar Hotels & Resorts attests to just that. “Industries are recognizing the swift and scaled action necessary for sustainable ocean economies. At Iberostar Hotels and Resorts, we have a commitment to sourcing 100% of our seafood responsibly by 2025. We’ve overhauled our data collection system in order to improve traceability within our own system, but traceability becomes too complex to achieve the collective action needed without a guiding set of principles,” said Morikawa. “For industry and end consumers, we need guidelines like these Comprehensive Principles to not only reach our own scaled goals, but to help leverage changes across the tourism industry.”
SALT is a public-private partnership between USAID and the Packard, Moore, and Walton Family Foundations, and implemented by FishWise, a sustainable seafood consultancy. SALT promotes legal, sustainable, and responsible fisheries through increased transparency in seafood supply chains. The contents of this media release are the responsibility of FishWise and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
FishWise is a nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy based in Santa Cruz, CA, that takes a holistic approach to sustainability and aims to transform how the global seafood industry does business in order to protect ocean health and workers’ rights. Offering expertise that is trusted by human rights and conservation organizations, seafood buyers and suppliers, and government representatives, FishWise offers a range of services that empower businesses and a diverse community of collaborators to lead the transition to a sustainable, ethically responsible seafood industry. For more information, please visit www.FishWise.org, and follow FishWise’s work on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.