Seafood Sustainability and Traceability

Seafood Sustainability

Seafood sustainability refers to well-managed wild-capture fisheries and environmentally responsible marine aquaculture, which play a very important role in our food supply, the environment and our health. Ocean resources must be constantly monitored to determine whether overfishing is occurring, plus there are environmental issues which were not even considered several decades ago that have now become a central theme of seafood sustainability. 

The United States is a global leader in sustainable seafood; by law, our seafood must be provided under fishery management plans which prevent overfishing, rebuild depleted stocks, consider economic and social outcomes for fishing communities, identify and conserve essential fish habitats, and minimize bycatch with protected species. Fisheries in the United States are regionally managed, scientifically monitored and legally enforced under 10 national standards of sustainability. Seafood sustainability must work hand-in-hand with seafood traceability.

Seafood Traceability 

The ability to rapidly and accurately track and trace seafood products throughout the supply chain has become essential; not only are consumers both more aware and more interested in sustainability and other food issues, the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act has made a strong call for improvements to be made to tracking and tracing food. However, developing a successful traceability program can be quite a process. In 2014, seafood industry stakeholders voluntarily agreed to work with the National Fisheries Institution as well as the GS1 US to collaborate on a Proof of Concept project regarding seafood traceability. 

This program allowed participants (Bumble Bee Foods, High Liner Foods, Sea Port Products Corp, Slade Gorton and Trident Seafoods) to evaluate their seafood traceability programs within the context of the U.S. Seafood Traceability Implementation Guide. The results of the report led to recommendations and findings which has helped the entire seafood industry to develop better traceability programs. 

Wild caught seafood goes through the following chain: From the “catching” vessel, to another vessel, to the primary processor to the open market, to retail/foodservice distributors or wholesalers, and to the final point of sale. Aquaculture seafood goes from: a hatchery, to pond, lake or open water farms, to a primary processor, the open market, retail/foodservice distributors or wholesalers and to the final point of sale. As you can see, before seafood ends up on the plates of consumers, there are any number of areas where a problem could occur. Because “problems” can result in illness or even death, there has to be a solid program in place which allows easy traceability. 

The goal of the Proof of Concept was to increase both government activity and consumer awareness. The Proof of Concept also seeks to educate the organizations within the seafood supply chain, ensuring they understand the overall concept of traceability. While all types of seafood were included in the study, in particular the study looked at wild-caught salmon transformed to salmon burgers with additional ingredients, farmed shrimp from Thailand, fish (shrimp, tuna, toothfish) caught and shipped directly to retail customers, and processed farmed salmon. With a complete line of energy efficient, hard-working, solidly-made ice machine flakers, Howe plays an important role in seafood traceability issues and we are committed to helping our customers in the seafood merchandising, seafood processing and seafood distribution industries ensure the safety of seafood. 

For any questions regarding seafood sustainability and traceability, ice flake machines, or any of our products, please contact us. 

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