Garren quoted on tracking technologies for fish
Driven by concerns about food safety and illegal fishing, major seafood companies are working to improve how they trace fish through the industry’s complex supply chains.
But in many parts of the world, fish are caught by artisanal fishers, not by massive trawlers. For these small-scale fishers, existing tracing technologies are often too cumbersome, complex, or expensive to use. This means they are often ineligible for sustainability certification (and the economic benefits that entails), because they can’t prove where, when, and how their fish were taken.
To close this gap, a number of technologies and business strategies are coming online that will make it easier for artisanal fleets, companies, governments, and even individuals to track a fish from sea to fork.
California-based Pelagic Data Systems, for example, has developed a low-cost, sturdy, solar-powered device that can be installed on a small boat. Like the more expensive vehicle monitoring systems used by large commercial fishing vessels, it sports sensors that collect data on the boat’s location in the water. The device automatically uploads the data to the cloud over a cellular network, allowing seafood buyers, regulators, and conservation groups to track the boat’s location and fishing practices by following the data.
In Mexico, a fishery recently proved that it could use the ultra-light device to monitor ships in a region where illegal fishing had once been common, according to Melissa Garren, Pelagic Data Systems’ chief scientific officer. This proof of monitoring capability helped the fishery receive Fair Trade certification.