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MSC Pilots Seafood Traceability Tool, Asks for Industry Feedback

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is soliciting feedback on a new traceability tool that verifies seafood supply chain transactions on a global scale. A public consultation period is taking place from August 16th to September 18th, during which industry members are encouraged to offer their expertise and comments to shape the tool. 

The MSC Online Transaction Tool helps companies verify seafood sales and purchases made by processing, distribution and retail companies as they occur across complex supply chains. Since its initial development in 2012, the tool has been trialed by seven European companies and 15 Chinese companies. The goal is to roll the tool out to over 3,000 supply chain companies handling certified products across 34,000 sites and 60 countries around the world.

The MSC Chain of Custody certificate currently verifies that organizations’ products are correctly labeled and from certified sustainable fisheries. The new tool will complement this system by adding transaction information about volume, species, invoice number and transaction date to further mitigate the risk of non-sustainably sourced seafood being labeled and sold as certified.

“The MSC’s segregation and traceability program is widely recognized 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.”

In addition to providing online feedback about the tool, seafood companies are invited to join a MSC online workshop on September 2nd and 3rd that will offer practical solutions on seafood transaction and verification.

“We took part in trialing the MSC Online Transaction Solution and felt it is an important addition to our business,” said Alex Olsen of Espersen, a MSC-certified processing company 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.”

The MSC Online Transaction Tool adds to the push for more transparent seafood supply chains, after recent reports that slave labor is used in supply chains of major grocery stores. Last month saw the release of both the US Department of State's 2015 Global Trafficking in Persons Report and a New York Times investigation into the supply chain of Thai Union, the world’s largest producer of canned tuna, which both highlighted Thailand as a hotbed for slavery in the fishing industry. Also in July, Greenpeace released the ninth edition of its Carting Away the Oceans report, ranking 25 supermarkets on the sustainability of their seafood procurement. Among the top-performing companies was Safeway, which recently launched a partnership with Fair Trade USA to sell certified sustainable seafood in the North American market. 

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