New Oceana report highlights value of seafood traceability

In a new report from Oceana, pioneers in the traceable seafood movement discuss the benefits — including profitability —  of sharing their fish stories with consumers.

Oceana's new report, Fish Stories, highlights how seafood traceability benefits more than 15 companies along the supply chain — from fishermen and distributors to grocery stores and restaurants.    

The report was released this week at Seafood Expo North America in Boston.

“Traceability is the future of seafood,” said Beth Lowell, senior campaign director at Oceana. “Testimonials from these pioneers show that full-chain traceability isn’t just feasible, but that it’s also profitable. These businesses are telling the stories of their products, growing their seafood’s value, and establishing trust with their customers.

"Fishermen and wholesalers are able to earn more for their catch when they can tell the story of their fish, empowering consumers to make more informed decisions. The federal government should require boat-to-plate traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. so that the entire supply chain can reap its benefits,” she said.

One testimonial in the report comes from Brad Blymier, founder and co-owner of War Shore Oyster Company in Onancock, Virginia. "Traceability of product is not a request, but rather an expectation of our customers," he said. "Empowering them with the knowledge of exactly where their shellfish was grown and harvested is an invaluable asset and has helped make War Shore Oyster Company a trusted supplier to the region’s top chefs, restaurants, grocers and shellfish connoisseurs.”

Similarly, David Krebs, president of Ariel Seafoods in Destin, Florida, said, “Ariel Seafoods has observed a substantial increase in orders from restaurants that use Fish Trax to inform their guests about the fish they are eating. Consumer confidence about their meal is proving invaluable to the seafood industry.”

In February, the Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) Fishing and Seafood Fraud released a proposed rule aimed at tackling these problems in the United States. The rule, which is open for public comment, proposed new requirements for seafood, including requiring traceability to the first point of entry into U.S. commerce for a select number of species considered at risk of IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

“The new rule is missing critical components to stop IUU fishing and seafood fraud,” Lowell said. “Full-chain traceability for all U.S. seafood is a must to ensure that it’s safe, legally caught and honestly labeled. Until then, pirate fishing and seafood fraud will continue to threaten the oceans and consumers’ wallets, while undermining honest fishermen and businesses that play by the rules.”

To access Oceana’s full report, video and other materials, please visit www.oceana.org/fishstories

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