The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST), a major industry forum involving more than five dozen companies worldwide from across the seafood supply chain, released the first-ever global standards for tracking seafood products from point of origin to point of sale. These standards are a critical step forward in the fight against illegal fishing and unethical labor practices and are changing the game for an industry under increasing pressure to demonstrate its compliance with high standards for ethical sourcing.
“The release of the GDST traceability standards is a watershed moment for the seafood industry,” said Darian McBain, global director of sustainability for Thai Union. “Traceability is the backbone of our sustainability strategy, and these standards will greatly strengthen our ability to manage the data flow in complex seafood supply chains.”
Seafood is the most globalized food sector, providing protein to 4.3 billion people and income to hundreds of millions around the world. But illegal fishing, which fuels overfishing and environmental degradation, as well as human rights abuses, such as slavery at sea, is estimated at up to one-quarter of fish caught by commercial fishers globally, with upwards of $36 billion in illegal fish products entering seafood markets yearly. Complex seafood supply chains mask these issues and contribute to fraud and the mislabeling of products in seafood markets.
From the outset, the GDST was convened and supported by WWF and the Global Food Traceability Center of the Institute of Food Technologists, a non-profit global association dedicated to safe, nutritious, and sustainable food for all. After nearly three years of technical work, the release of the “GDST 1.0” standards will establish a common baseline for the kinds of information to be tracked and the digital formats needed to share information across the sector.
“We believe that our customers should know where their food comes from and how it is sourced,” noted Carrie Brownstein, principal quality standards advisor for seafood at Whole Foods Market, the leading natural and organic foods retailer owned by Amazon, Inc. “These ground-breaking standards have the power to positively change how seafood is tracked through supply chains globally.”
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