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FishWise Explores Cooperative Traceability

Created on Thursday, 20 July 2017

At the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in June, FishWise – in collaboration with the Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC), Future of Fish, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – organized a panel that explored how a cooperative approach to traceability can serve the bottom line for all seafood supply chain actors. Sara Lewis, a Project Director within FishWise’s Traceability Division, moderated the panel “Cooperative Traceability: Pre-Competitive Solutions for Full-Chain Traceability.” Expert panelists Keith Flett from Future of Fish, Eric Enno Tamm from ThisFish, and Thomas Kraft from Norpac Fisheries Export and Insite Solution, brought their own unique perspectives and experience to bear on the topic.

The panel began with an audience poll that revealed a majority of the session’s attendees felt that the largest hurdle to implementing interoperable traceability in seafood supply chains was the difficulty around selecting the right traceability solution. Keith Flett addressed this challenge directly in his presentation – introducing a request for proposal (RFP) process Future of Fish is developing to assist seafood supply chains in finding traceability solutions that meet their needs. This RFP process would help align stakeholders within a given seafood supply chain, define client groups, address data gaps, and assist them in clearly identifying their traceability needs. Technology vendors can then use the RFP information to respond to the needs of that particular client group, and better align technology solutions, cost, and implementation procedures. Future of Fish believes this RFP process could help both technology vendors and supply chain companies make the process of finding the “right” solution less burdensome and result in the selection of better traceability tools.

Next, Eric Enno Tam explained that in many cases the business benefits of traceability need to be clearly identified in order for end-to-end supply chain traceability implementation to be successful. Product data can be extremely valuable if used in the right way, and traceability-enabled data sharing can give companies a competitive advantage. Traceability can help companies save or make money through marketing positive product attributes, risk mitigation, and increasing operational efficiencies—among many other proven benefits. Thomas Kraft, having experience in both seafood distribution and traceability technology, believes electronic data capture should be the main topic of discussion when it comes to traceability. Thomas explained that as companies move away from paper based data systems towards electronic, information will begin to be shared more easily between supply chain members, then naturally improving traceability throughout the industry. He also said that the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program may be the business impetus that moves many seafood companies towards implementing electronic data capture and traceability improvements for the January 1, 2018 compliance date.

An important take away from this session is that improving data sharing and traceability can be a multi-stakeholder process. Companies that work closely with their suppliers towards a collaborative solution which fits the needs of the entire supply chain will see increased business benefits for each member within that supply chain. In preparation for the implementation of the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program, FishWise suggests companies work with their supply chains to ensure that their suppliers are aware of expectations for products, share Key Data Elements throughout the supply chain, and confirm that documentation is available for products that will demonstrate legal harvest and compliance with the relevant fishery management agency.

To learn more about seafood traceability and recommended next steps that businesses can take to improve their traceability, please read our white paper Advancing Traceability in the Seafood Industry: Assessing Challenges and Opportunities.