Success in the seafood industry increasingly depends on access to reliable information about the origins of seafood products – including basic information about the conditions of production within fisheries and aquaculture farms. At present, however, this information is not consistently accessible or easily verifiable. This is an endemic issue within the industry, equivalent to the absence of health and safety assurances prior to the adoption of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety standards. Today, seafood purchasers around the world are demanding different information (and in different formats) from fisheries and farms, leaving producers without clear requirements and with little hope of providing consistent and reliable information at acceptable costs.
What is needed is a globally agreed set of key data elements (KDEs) related to seafood production that meet the needs of processors, traders, and retailers across geographies and market subsectors. With standardized KDEs, it will be much easier to meet growing commercial and regulatory demands to demonstrate product legality, contribute to sustainability, and/or avoid costly scandals.
Industry-led efforts to define a common set of KDEs have already begun within several corners of the seafood sector. However, until these discussions are broadened and globalised, the absence of a common approach to seafood KDEs will remain a serious obstacle to efficiency, interoperability, and adequately harmonised regulations.
Securing reliable seafood KDEs
Through the Global Dialogue, the industry can come together to agree on a universal set of basic KDEs. A global convergence around standardised seafood KDEs, along with parameters for their technical content and identification of their authoritative sources, will help reduce costs, increase access to new suppliers or customers, and simplify verification processes.
The Global Dialogue discussion to agree on standardised seafood KDEs is taking place within Working Group 1.