GDST Opens New Phase of Growth and Services for Advancing Seafood Traceability

BOSTON (Seafood Expo North America) – March 13, 2022 – Two years after releasing its groundbreaking industry standards for seafood traceability, the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) will use its public panel at the Seafood Expo North America today to announce the opening of a new phase in its growth and evolution.  The panel will be led by Mr. Greg Brown, making his first public appearance as the GDST’s inaugural Executive Director.  During the panel, Mr. Brown will highlight several important developments that will further strengthen the GDST and accelerate the seafood industry’s transition to globally interoperable digital traceability.

These developments are formally being released today and include the following:

  • By year’s end the GDST will be reorganized into a permanent, independently incorporated, industry-led, member-based entity, evolving from the platform convened and facilitated by WWF and the Institute of Food Technologists since 2017. The reorganization will create a permanent home for maintaining and supporting the GDST standards while continuing to provide GDST members with a global forum to coordinate industry actions and promote government policies in favor of effective, business-smart seafood traceability.
  • The release of the first technical update to the GDST standards, replacing GDST 1.0 with GDST 1.1. This update includes revisions to improve the internal consistency of the standards and to address technical feedback raised by users since the release of GDST 1.0 in March 2020. Importantly, the new version includes a refined computer-to-computer communications standard to ensure that GDST-compliant systems can connect automatically. The revision does not, however, make substantial changes in the GDST’s core data formatting standards or the “basic universal list” of required key data elements.
  • The release of the first GDST mechanism for verifying IT system capability to achieve GDST interoperability. This mechanism responds to strong market demand for a way to verify claims made by traceability systems vendors and/or seafood supply chain partners regarding their ability to achieve GDST-based interoperability. The GDST panel will include a sneak preview of the mechanism, which is slated for public launch in Q2 of this year.

“The announcements we are making today reflect the GDST’s progress and momentum,” said Mr. Brown.  “Around the globe—in Asia, Europe, and the Americas—uptake of the GDST standards is going strong and gathering speed. We are calling on companies around the world and across the seafood supply chain to join us in this important new chapter in the GDST’s development.”

Regarding the GDST’s transition to an independent, industry-based entity, Mr. David Schorr of WWF, said, “WWF is proud to have helped initiate and lead the GDST through its formative stages.  Now the time has come for the GDST to be more formally organized as a permanent, industry-led entity standing on its own feet. Under the leadership of industry veteran Greg Brown, we see a bright and impactful future for the GDST and its many member companies around the world.”

Regarding the GDST’s forthcoming mechanism for publicly verifying IT systems as ready for interoperability, Mr. Bryan Hitchcock of the Institute of Food Technologists, Global Food Traceability Center, said, “Having a way for companies to prove their systems are capable of computer-to-computer interoperability will further enhance the value of GDST implementation.  We are excited by the level of interest in this new GDST verification mechanism within the traceability vendor and user communities.

Regarding the importance of the GDST to the seafood industry, “Both the sustainability and the profitability of the seafood industry increasingly depends on effective traceability,” said Justin Baugh of the Fishin’ Company, the world’s largest importer of tilapia and one of the top importers of frozen fish in the United States. “The Fishin’ Company serves on the GDST’s industry Steering Committee because we recognize that widespread adoption of the GDST’s standards for interoperable digital traceability is a ‘must do’ for the future of seafood globally.”

For press inquiries, please contact:  Ms. Taylor Moran, taylor.moran@wwfusorg, +1 (202) 495-4688

Alternatively, we welcome the press to visit us at the GDST booth #788 to speak directly with a GDST Secretariat team member.

Additional Background Information:

The GDST was organized in 2017 by WWF and the Institute of Food Technologists as an international, business-to-business platform to advance a unified framework for interoperable and verifiable seafood traceability. The GDST brings together companies from around the globe and across different parts of the seafood supply chain. In March 2020, after a multi-year industry-led drafting process, the GDST released the first-ever global standard (GDST 1.0) governing information content and data formats specifically for seafood traceability systems. Learn more at or contact the GDST by email at

Mr. Greg Brown took the helm as GDST’s inaugural Executive Director on 1 February 2022. A recent interview with Mr. Brown in SeafoodSource can be found here.

More than 100 companies and 30 traceability system vendors have adopted or publicly endorsed the GDST standards. The standards have been recognized as critical to the future of the seafood leading industry groups such as SeaBOS, the Global Tuna Alliance (GTA), Sea Pact, the U.K. Seafood Industry Alliance, and the U.K. Sustainable Seafood Coalition, the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), and the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF).

In one of the most broadly subscribed joint statements ever issued by seafood industry actors, SeaBOS, GTA, GSSI, ISSF, and the GDST came together in February 2021 to issue a joint call for action that identified GDST implementation as one of the top priorities in the fight against illegal fishing.

The growing influence of the GDST standards is also evident in their public treatment by experts and stakeholder entities such as the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, GS1, Lloyds Register Foundation, the MSC and ASC, Planet Tracker, the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT), the U.N. Global Compact, the World Benchmarking Alliance Seafood Sustainability Index, and the U.N. FAO (in multiple reports and processes, please contact us for more info).