Unlocking the Full Benefits of Seafood Electronic Catch Documentation and Traceability
Electronic traceability systems in seafood supply chains offer numerous benefits beyond financial returns, making them valuable investments. Return on investment (ROI) is typically used to measure the profitability of an investment, and in the context of seafood traceability, it refers to the financial benefits a company can expect from implementing a traceability system. However, over the past decade, there has been an increasing focus on the non-financial benefits of such systems. As companies seek to assess the triple-bottom-line impact of their electronic traceability investments, they discover a range of benefits extending far beyond financial gains.
There are many potential economic benefits to implementing a seafood traceability system. One of the most obvious is improving supply chain efficiency and reducing operational costs. By tracking seafood products from catch to consumption, companies can gain valuable insights into their operations, identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, and take steps to address them, leading to cost savings, increased productivity, and improved customer satisfaction.
A critical benefit of seafood traceability is ensuring that seafood is sustainably and ethically sourced. Traceability systems can help companies and organizations track the origin of their seafood products, allowing them to make informed decisions about the suppliers they work with. This increased supply chain transparency can help to reduce the environmental impact of fishing and seafood production and support the rights and well-being of workers in the seafood industry. By tracking the movement of seafood from the point of harvest to the point of sale, it becomes easier to identify unsustainable practices such as overfishing, bycatch, illegal fishing and instances of labor abuse, such as forced labor, child labor, and unsafe working conditions. This information can be used to develop more effective and targeted conservation measures, hold companies accountable for any violations, and promote better labor practices throughout the industry. Additionally, by building trust with consumers through increased transparency, companies can increase customer loyalty and brand reputation.
Seafood traceability systems can help to identify and prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. By tracking the movement of seafood products and verifying the data against relevant regulations and certifications, traceability systems can detect and flag any inconsistencies or irregularities that may indicate IUU fishing or seafood fraud. This information can be used to identify areas where enforcement efforts can be focused, increase accountability throughout the supply chain, and ultimately reduce the incidence of IUU fishing. IUU fishing negatively impacts fish stocks, the environment, and the livelihoods of people who depend on them. The U.S. Coast Guard recently ranked IUU fishing among the greatest maritime threats because of its impact on global food insecurity. By using traceability systems to track seafood products, companies, and organizations can help to combat IUU fishing and support the sustainability of global fish stocks.
Finally, seafood traceability systems can improve food safety by allowing rapid identification and recall of contaminated seafood products. As a result, protecting consumers and reducing the risk of foodborne illness.
By implementing an electronic seafood traceability system, companies can gain benefits beyond increasing financial returns. To fully realize the potential advantages, ROI must be redefined to evaluate and measure the full range of benefits that seafood producers and buyers can gain from supply chain data. With seafood traceability systems, supply chain efficiency can be improved, sustainable and ethical sourcing can be supported, illegal fishing can be combated, and food safety can be enhanced, ultimately creating a more responsible and sustainable seafood industry.
FishWise’s Comprehensive Return on Investment Project
With the continued support of the Walton Family Foundation in 2023, FishWise is conducting research to develop and pilot a comprehensive definition of ROI that will allow seafood companies to evaluate and measure the full range of benefits gained from existing supply chain data. FishWise is testing assumptions regarding the perceived benefits beyond financial gain of sharing supply chain data downstream to the end buyer and final consumer.
The project objectives for 2023 include conducting targeted interviews and facilitating multi-stakeholder virtual convenings to define a new, measurable, comprehensive definition of ROI for seafood traceability. Through this process, we will explore whether there are new use cases for EM/ER data at the end-buyer level and how to leverage this existing electronic harvest data to improve supply chain transparency. Additionally, the study will examine the market willingness to pay for greater access to specific harvest data if the industry achieves a comprehensive ROI.