While some suppliers may see President Barack Obama's recent call for all seafood sold in United States to be sustainable and traceable as an example of governmental overreach, according to a seafood business and traceability expert, it's a good thing.
"Global seafood supply chains are long and complex, and 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported," explained Phil Werdal, CEO of Seattle-based Trace Register, which provides a web-based, on-demand traceability application designed to meet international standards and support worldwide supply chains. "Managing these products with traditional paper-based systems is no longer possible, given the sheer amount of data that must be monitored."
Adds Werdal: "Some leading suppliers and retailers have adopted electronic traceability systems to help them improve the compliance, consistency and sustainability of their products. We are encouraged to see the U.S. government also recognize the importance of electronic traceability and strongly come out in favor of it. About 30 percent of leading U.S. retailers use our traceability software, and with the national spotlight now focused on sustainability, we hope to see others follow in their footsteps."
President Obama's June 17 memorandum noted that as it was "in the national interest of the United States to promote a framework that supports sustainable fishing practices and combats seafood fraud and the sale of IUU [illegal, unreported, and unregulated] fishing products ... the United States will need to enhance the tools it has available to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, including" collaborating with Congress in bolstering the enforcement provisions of U.S. statutes for the implementation of international fisheries agreements, and working with industry and foreign partners to create and put into effect new and existing measures, among them traceability programs, to ensure accurate labeling at retail.