How Can Comprehensive Seafood Traceability Principles Guide the Design and Implementation of Electronic Systems in the Real World?
In 2021, the Mexico-based organization Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI) launched the PescaData mobile application, as part of the Innovación Azul digital ecosystem. The comprehensive electronic catch documentation and traceability Principles for seafood and the accompanying Pathway to the Principles played an essential role in the design and development of this mobile application.
Codesigned by SALT in 2021, the comprehensive traceability Principles involve collecting ecological, social, and economic data related to seafood products. The comprehensive approach of the Principles aims to support and strengthen effective fisheries management, support legal and equitable human welfare conditions for seafood laborers and identify and prevent IUU and mislabeled products from entering markets. The Pathway to the Principles serves as guidance to implement these Principles at different stages of the traceability program: Initiate, Design and Implement.
The practice of digitally collecting, sharing, and tracking verifiable information about the harvesting, processing, and transportation of seafood products is electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT)
These Principles and the Pathway represent best practices for governments in seafood producing countries when designing, implementing, or improving their comprehensive electronic traceability programs. The Principles can also serve as a tool for NGOs, the seafood industry, and other stakeholders interested in comprehensive seafood traceability programs.
According to COBI, “PescaData fully considers 75% of the Principles in its design and implementation.” Another 16% were partially considered. PescaData also incorporated other principles such as the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability’s (GDST) Key Data Elements, the Ten Principles of Platform Cooperatives, and the Design Principles for Systems Change. By incorporating these principles, COBI aims to promote the interoperability of PescaData with existing platforms and to provide holistic digital services to fishers.
What is PescaData?
PescaData is a mobile application that intends to connect to existing platforms to promote interoperability and help small-scale fishers incorporate their catches into external traceability schemes while improving their technological prowess and administrative capacity. The PescaData mobile application is a bottom-up approach that aims to meet fishers’ needs and grow organically in the fisheries sector in Latin America and the Caribbean.
SALT and COBI acknowledge that PescaData is not a seafood traceability application. However, PescaData is designed to be interoperable with as many systems as possible to track seafood products starting at the beginning of the supply chain. SALT is thrilled to see how the Principles served as a north star in COBI’s development process.
When data related to the harvest and movement of seafood products is captured and shared electronically, the exchange and verification of information can be quicker. It enables a broader use and more efficient verification process by governments and companies within supply chains. This can facilitate regulatory compliance, access to international markets, and better communication between data users to demonstrate that seafood products come from a legal, socially responsible, and economically fair source.
In the report Designing PescaData: principles and properties, COBI highlights the use of the Principles and Pathway and other design principles when designing the PescaData Mobile application. Using color coding, this report represents the status of the application of these Principles in PescaData (Green = fully considered; Yellow = partially considered; Red = Not considered or Not applicable). The following excerpts of COBI’s analysis show how the PescaData app design integrated some of the Pathway steps according to each stage of Initiate, Design and Implement.
What’s next for COBI and PescaData?
COBI plans to expand PescaData through Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently, this mobile application focuses on small-scale fisheries in Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, and Ecuador.