The programme aims to help consumers have confidence in the seafood they buy from the Gulf. (Photo: traceregister/FIS)
Programme launched to boost public opinion of Gulf seafood
Tuesday, May 03, 2011, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) has joined other groups to introduce a regional traceability programme designed to improve the public’s perception of seafood harvested in the Gulf of Mexico. The programme will provide critical information about this seafood as it moves from the boat and throughout the supply chain and thereby empower the regional fisheries management bodies, the seafood industry and seafood eaters.
GSMFC along with global food traceability company Trace Register, LLC and independent consulting business MRAG Americas, Inc have launched the project, a component of the GSMFC’s Oil Disaster Recovery Programme funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in an attempt to soften the economic problems provoked by the BP oil disaster. It will run through 2015.
“The programme aims to place confidence into the marketplace by creating innovative information portals, integrating external data such as seafood testing results and answering complex fisheries management questions,” GSMFC said in a statement. “It will also be well placed to meet the requirements of eco-labeling programs that require chain-of-custody for fishery products.”
Alex Miller, GSMFC economist and traceability coordinator, said what needs to be done is simply to organise and make available the information on Gulf seafood that already exists so consumers can make educated decisions.
“The Trace Register-MRAG system will allow us to do that,” Miller said.
Through the use of smartphones and online portals, the public will be able to view information virtually and learn where Gulf seafood came from, who caught it and how it reached the market.
Trace Register will use its system to gather data from state trip tickets used to document catch when boats land their catches. Dealers, processors, distributors and retailers will link information about seafood from the southern states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas as it travels from the docks to the stores.
MRAG Americas’ role will be to improve the system by running random voluntary audits “aimed at mitigating risk to buyers.”
The Trace Register team “is both pleased and honored that the Gulf seafood industry has selected Trace Register for this important project,” commented Trace Register founder and CEO, Phil Werdal.
He said the company is anticipating working with the GSMFC to create and execute the electronic traceability system to help consumers once again feel confident about buying seafood from the Gulf.
Economic analysis from 2008 showed that the Gulf’s commercial seafood industry produced more than USD 5 billion in sales and gave work to more than 119,000 people in the region. But since then, seafood imports and the oil disaster have had detrimental effects on the markets.
“The GSMFC seeks to conserve, develop and fully utilise the fishery resources of the Gulf of Mexico in order to provide food, employment, income and recreation to the people of these US,” GSMFC asserted.
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By Natalia Real