Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 8-15-2012


The global seafood industry currently lacks a standardized, widespread method to easily trace the chain of custody of products that they purchase. With global overfishing leading to declining fish stocks around the world, it is vital for seafood providers to have the ability to identify and buy products from sustainable fisheries that are well managed, target abundant species, and fish in environmentally responsible ways. A tracing system that incorporates a combination of online inventory reporting and physical product tagging, augmented by independent supply chain verification, will give companies and consumers the information they need to make sustainable seafood choices.

Overfishing is costly. Altered fish landings have created economic hardships for fishermen and women worldwide. In addition, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) catches threaten the sustainability of many sensitive local fisheries. Increased tracing of seafood products has the potential to help alleviate these problems by giving suppliers and consumers relevant information that allows them to make sustainable choices.

The primary goals of the initial phase of this project are the development of a gap analysis in the current fishing industry in Costa Rica (including fisheries management criteria) as well as of recommendations for moving forward toward implementing a test system for a pilot traceability project. During this phase, current procedures will be outlined and compared to existing traceability models, standards, and regulations in Costa Rica and the U.S.

The ultimate goal of this project is to test the implementation of a seafood traceability system in Costa Rica (and perhaps Panama and Colombia) with practical experience, with real-life situations and challenges, and with a small number of participants at each step of the value chain (i.e., a small number of fishermen, a few processors, one or two distributors, and a large supermarket and/or restaurant chain).