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Fish Stories
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Thursday, 24 March 2016 18:27
Boston, Massachusetts, March 2016—Earlier this month Oceana, the world’s largest international advocacy organization focused on ocean conservation, released a new report titled Fish Stories, showing the success and value in seafood traceability (keeping track of the migration of seafood from its place in our oceans to the dinner plate).

The report, which highlights how seafood traceability benefits more than 15 companies interviewed along the supply chain – from fishermen and distributors to grocery stores and restaurants –was released at Seafood Expo North America in Boston. 
“Traceability is the future of seafood,” said Beth Lowell, senior campaign director at Oceana. “Testimonials from these pioneers show that full-chain traceability isn’t just feasible, but that it’s also profitable. These businesses are telling the stories of their products, growing their seafood’s value, and establishing trust with their customers. Fishermen and wholesalers are able to earn more for their catch when they can tell the story of their fish, empowering consumers to make more informed decisions. The federal government should require boat-to-plate traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. so that the entire supply chain can reap its benefits.”
Here are a few of their stories:
"Consumers care about where their fish comes from,” said Jared Auerbach, owner of Red’s Best in Boston, Massachusetts. “To help keep them informed, we built proprietary web-based software that starts at the point of unloading and makes it really easy for us to package the story of the catch so it stays with the fish throughout the supply chain."
“Working directly with local growers, delivering product within 24 hours of harvest, and product traceability are all major components of our company’s success,” said Brad Blymier, founder and co-owner of War Shore Oyster Company in Onancock, Virginia. “Traceability of product is not a request, but rather an expectation of our customers. Empowering them with the knowledge of exactly where their shellfish was grown and harvested is an invaluable asset and has helped make War Shore Oyster Company a trusted supplier to the region’s top chefs, restaurants, grocers and shellfish connoisseurs.”
“Traceability in its simplest form is being able to see where the product is being caught and what stores or restaurants it ends up at,” said Reese Antley, vice president of Wood’s Fisheries in Port St. Joe, Florida. “However, Wood’s Fisheries sees traceability in a much more detailed way -- we believe that you can’t have true sustainability and fishery improvements without traceability. For our customers, we are 100 percent transparent; if you want to know every step in the supply chain, it’s at your fingertips.”
“Traceability not only helps us to better track our inventories, it also ensures that we are sourcing our product responsibly,” said Steve Vilnit, director of fisheries marketing at J.J. McDonnell in Jessup, Maryland. “This storied fish is more than just a piece of protein with a price tag on it; it is a centerpiece on a plate that took the hard work of many to get there. Being able to trace a product, and therefore create a story about it, adds value along the entire supply chain.”
“Ariel Seafoods has observed a substantial increase in orders from restaurants that use Fish Trax to inform their guests about the fish they are eating,” said David Krebs, president of Ariel Seafoods in Destin, Florida. “Consumer confidence about their meal is proving invaluable to the seafood industry.”
“Customers expect safe and nutritious seafood and that all parties in the supply chain utilize best practices to deliver this every day,” said Dave Wagner, vice president of seafood merchandising at Wegmans Food Markets. “Having traceability and the right partners is the only way to accomplish this.”
In February, the Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud released a proposed rule aimed at tackling these problems in the United States. The rule, which is currently open for public comment, proposed new requirements for seafood, including requiring traceability to the first point of entry into U.S. commerce for a select number of species considered “at risk” of IUU fishing and seafood fraud.
“The new rule is missing critical components to stop IUU fishing and seafood fraud,” said Lowell. “Full-chain traceability for all U.S. seafood is a must to ensure that it’s safe, legally caught and honestly labeled. Until then, pirate fishing and seafood fraud will continue to threaten the oceans and consumers’ wallets, while undermining honest fishermen and businesses that play by the rules.”
To access Oceana’s full report, video and other materials, please visit www.oceana.org/fishstories.  
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