2012/702 Innovation in traceability for the Australian seafood industry: Austral Fisheries/Northern Prawn Fishery case study
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2012/702 Innovation in traceability for the Australian seafood industry: Austral Fisheries/Northern Prawn Fishery case study

By Janet Howieson et al.


Austral fisheries have identified the need for establishing the efficacy and efficiency of establishing an electronic traceability system for their seafood products.  An ideal system would also provide real time monitoring of temperature and location from point of harvest to retail sale and enable electronic access at purchase by the supermarket customer to provide product information. 


As reported in the 2007 CRC report ‘Review of Traceability and Product Sensor Technologies relevant to the Seafood Industry’ two major factors compel the need for food traceability; consumer safety and brand protection.  These factors are relevant to two separate stakeholders in seafood supply chains, the consumer and the primary producers.  In regards to consumer safety consumers need to be assured of the safety of a product, of its origins, that it was made by approved procedures, that it consists of appropriate ingredients and that the food is true to label. The general increase in interest in the environment, climate change, animal welfare, sustainability, organic production and ecology means that there is growing public awareness about the source of seafood and whether it meets these requirements. From the producer’s point of view the prime concern must be protection of their brand because the loss of consumer and buyer confidence in their product can result in far reaching consequences.        


In Australia’s seafood industry, paper traceability systems are the norm in most of the catching and harvesting sectors, despite the fact that the catch sector uses many sophisticated electronic instruments and devices in their operations and that electronic communications and computer use are wide spread on board, dockside and in processors. Whilst paper based systems can work, they are inherently inefficient and offer no scope for improvement. There is now a whole suite of non-paper based traceability systems that could be applicable to the Australian seafood industry.  However a case study is required to identify the most relevant   technologies, and implement and evaluate the traceability system, hence enabling informed decision making around costs and benefits by other sectors of the industry.


Therefore, this project aimed to: 

  1. Identify, establish and evaluate an innovative, electronic traceability system for Austral seafood products
  2. Characterise the choices, issues and opportunities around implementation of innovative traceability systems for Australian seafood