Global seafood trade increased to 160 million tonnes per annum in 2013, with 37% of this being
traded internationally. Traceability of seafood has become a hot topic, with the EU and US bringing in
new regulations recently. In 2015 Food Standards Australia New Zealand will be examining
traceability issues in Australia. The FAO Committee of Fisheries is also currently developing
international best practice guidelines. SafeFish has listed traceability through chain as an
emerging issue that industry needs support to address.
There are many different drivers for traceability, often determined by the product type and destination
market. Internally companies use traceability as a production/management tool, or to simplify record
keeping, and hence increase efficiencies. It may also provide a mechanism for fast and efficient recall of
contaminated product. This internal financial benefit to business operations has been well
demonstrated in case studies undertaken by the Global Chain Alliance. Traceability also enables
manufacturers and growers to interface directly with their end users. Markets and regulators are
increasingly demanding through chain traceability as a means of assurance of food safety, sustainable
fishing practices (eg MSC "chain of custody" requirements, and product integrity (including protection against substitution).
In Australia’s seafood industry, paper traceability systems are the norm in most of the catching and
harvesting sectors, despite the fact that the catch sector uses many sophisticated electronic
instruments and devices in their operations and that electronic communications and computer use are
wide spread on board, dockside and in processors. Whilst paper based systems can work, they are
inherently inefficient and offer no scope for improvement.
However, with the learnings from 2012/702 informing this proposed project and increasing interest in electronic traceability systems, this project can assist
Australian seafood companies to choose and implement traceability systems appropriate to their internal and external needs.