MSC trials traceability tool against seafood fraud

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

The MSC is developing an online tool for protecting against seafood fraud
The MSC is developing an online tool for protecting against seafood fraud

Related tags: Supply chain, Overfishing, Seafood

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has been undertaking trials of a new seafood traceability tool in response to increasing incidents of fraud in the sector, where non-sustainable fish varieties are being passed off as sustainable species.

The MSC sustainable fish certification body is exploring new ways for additional protection from seafood fraud in its supply chain. Over the past two years it has been piloting a new traceability tool, the MSC Online Transaction Solution, and is seeking feedback from industry stakeholders to shape its continued development.

It is seeking stakeholder feedback on the tool for added supply chain integrity in over 60 countries.

Currently, there is no online system available that can securely handle and verify information of seafood supply chain transactions on a global scale, said the MSC. Its traceability tool verifies seafood sales and purchases made by processing, distribution and retail companies as it moves through the complex global supply chain.

Seafood traceability tool

Since its development in 2012, the tool has been evaluated in seven European and 15 Chinese companies. The plan is to roll it out to over 3,000 supply chain companies handling certified products in over 34,000 sites around the world.

The MSC said this was the last opportunity for industry partners to offer their expertise, and help shape an effective tool that would meet current and future industry demands.

The public consultation began on August 17 and will run to September 18 2015. Seafood industry members have been invited to share their insights by taking part in the online consultation​.

They are also invited to join an online interactive workshop​ taking place on September 2 and 3. The workshops are designed for supply chain companies to offer practical solutions on seafood transaction and verification.

“The MSC’s segregation and traceability program is widely recognised as one of the most effective systems for tracking certified seafood along the supply chain,” said Titia Sjenitzer, senior product integrity manager at the MSC.

“However, the seafood industry is dynamic. Demand for certified sustainable seafood continues to grow, and other certification schemes, such as the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), are working with the MSC to use our Chain of Custody Standard.

“This means that more scalable monitoring mechanisms are required to ensure the MSC’s system remains efficient and effective.”

Chain of Custody certificate

Over 3,000 organisations, operating out of over 34,000 sites in more than 60 countries currently hold an MSC Chain of Custody certificate. These organisations are responsible for handling over 18,000 products that are sold with the MSC ecolabel in around 100 countries.

DNA testing shows that 99% of MSC labelled products are correctly labelled, demonstrating the integrity of the current system. However, the MSC is seeking to evolve its tools and systems in order to ensure that its standard continues to lead the industry in ensuring a traceable supply chain for seafood.

Using latest technologies, the tool will complement, but not replace, the existing MSC Chain of Custody system.

“We took part in trialling the MSC Online Transaction Solution and felt it is an important addition to our business,” ​said Alex Olsen, from MSC certified processing company A Espersen, based in Denmark.

The tool provides us with added confidence that our brand and products are running through a secure and genuine supply chain handling only certified seafood.”

2018 implementation

If the pilot proves successful, the new tool will be implemented across the full programme by 2018. It will verify seafood sales and purchases transaction information (such as volume, species, invoice number and transaction date) to mitigate the risk of non-sustainable products being labelled and sold as certified.

More than 250 fisheries in over 30 countries are certified to the MSC’s Standard. These fisheries have a combined annual seafood production of almost 9Mt, representing around 10% of annual global yields. More than 26,000 seafood products worldwide carry the MSC ecolabel.

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