Executive Summary


The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (also referred to as the Dialogue) is an international, business-to-business platform established to advance a unified framework for interoperable seafood traceability practices. The Dialogue brings together a broad spectrum of seafood industry stakeholders from across different parts of the supply chain, as well as relevant civil society experts from diverse regions.

The Dialogue is catalysing the development of interoperable practices that will:

  • Improve the reliability of seafood information
  • Reduce the cost of seafood traceability
  • Contribute to supply chain risk reduction
  • Contribute to securing the long-term social and environmental sustainability of the sector.

The Dialogue is organized around a structure and an agenda stemming from a dozen preparatory workshops in Asia, Europe, and North America. With three technical working groups, the pre-competitive Dialogue aims to produce an aligned global framework for seafood traceability based on four pillars:

  1. Internationally agreed key data elements (KDEs) to be routinely associated with seafood products;
  2. Technical specifications for interoperable traceability systems, along with standard legal and business formats facilitating business-to-business information exchange;
  3. Internationally agreed benchmarks for verifying data validity; and
  4. Harmonisation of business-smart national regulations to help reduce compliance burdens.

These four pillars are similar to those that have helped create interoperable business-to-business traceability and information systems within other globalised industries, including banking, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals.

A number of market factors have increased the need for both standardising business practices and harmonising regulations to promote interoperable traceability within the seafood sector. These include:

  • Growing consumer and regulatory demands for more information about the origins of seafood products;
  • Rising concerns about the marketing of seafood which is sourced from illegal, unsustainable, or socially irresponsible practices (including slavery at sea); and
  • Increased business interest in improving transparency within seafood supply chains.

Technical Decisions

The Dialogue elected to use GS1 Standards to build this guidance document. The following are the key documents one should review to better understand decisions made by the Dialogue.

  1. GS1 Global Traceability Standard 2.0 (GTS2)1 explains how traceability systems are constructed based on the GS1 system of standards, specifically EPCIS2. This document provides much of the language and fundamental architecture assumed in this guide.
  2. GS1 Foundation for Fish, Seafood and Aquaculture Traceability Guideline3 provides a global view of seafood traceability from first sale to retail.
  3. GS1 US & NFI Seafood Traceability Implementation Guide4 provides specific guidance for North American seafood sold at retail.

The following extensions or adaptations of the GS1 Standards will be used to support the Dialogue's approach to creating global seafood interoperable traceability systems.

  1. Unique identification using free, non-GS1 keys. One of the chief weaknesses or complaints about GS1-based traceability is the perceived requirement to purchase GS1 identifiers for products and locations. It is true that for products sold at retail, they must carry a GS1 barcode and globally unique identifier (UPC, EAN, DataBar or DataMatrix) that is compatible with point of sale systems. However, within the supply chain, it is common for companies, fishermen and farmers to leverage free, non-GS1 identifiers such as the UUID/GUID5, URL6, Geographic Coordinates and the QR Code7. This guide will provide instructions and examples on how to use these open, free identifiers to identify trade items, logistic units, parties and locations in lieu of GS1 identifiers. See section 4.1 in GTS2 for more detail on identification of objects, parties and locations using GS1 keys. See section 4.2 in GTS2 for more detail on barcodes and RFID.
  2. Open data sharing approach. Rather than choose a specific system, platform or architecture, the Dialogue elected to support an open, flexible, technology agnostic method for sharing data with trading partners, audit bodies and regulators which simplifies data privacy and security. This guide will provide instructions and examples on how to create and share traceability data files using several file formats and technologies. [Our recommended method for sharing is by "bilaterally pushing" whole chain traceability EPCIS files]{.underline} including all relevant master and event data from one party to another party when product changes hands, as part of an audit or to a regulatory body. This assures that the data is exchanged knowingly between two parties as part of a legally binding agreement. Also, the inclusion of all relevant master data and event data representing each required step in the supply chain provides the receiver with a complete history of the product or products of interest without having to access additional systems or parties. However, this does put the responsibility of collecting all prior events digitally (CTEs and KDEs) on processors, brokers, importers and other links in the supply chain that currently rely heavily on paper records. This will require each organization to adopt systems that can collect, store and share both their own event information and all prior events. For example, a tuna loin processor would be required to receive, and store catch details from a vessel operator. In turn, the exporter might need to be able to electronically receive both the catch information and the processing information from the loin processor. See section 4.3 in GTS2 for more detail on data sharing.

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