‘Supply chain traceability systems needed to support sustainable fishing’

Systems of tracking the trade in endangered marine species along supply chains can help improve the sustainability of products derived from them, according to a report.

TRAFFIC, a non-governmental organisation that monitors trade in wild animals and plants, compiled the ‘traceability review’ of the supply chains for shark and ray products. The report also took into account sturgeon caviar, crocodile skins, queen conch and timber, which are among the species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

It highlighted practices such as labelling and registration of products and establishing trade databases containing information about exports and imports, to help track shipments and monitor the origin of products.

Commissioned by the CITES Secretariat, the study also outlined how catch documentation schemes allow products to be traced from the point of capture to the final destination.

The review shows how activities such as the mixing of shark and ray products sourced from sustainable and unsustainable fisheries can be prevented. It also examines whether national and international legislation is being adhered to throughout the supply chain.

Shark and ray products are used in food, leather, cosmetics and supplements.

“The traceability study is all about the next step in the process – that of ensuring any wildlife commodities considered to be sustainably sourced are traded in a legal and transparent manner,” said Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC’s fisheries programme leader and co-author of the study. 

“Consumers should be demanding governments introduce traceability systems to ensure they are not unwittingly purchasing and therefore supporting the trade in shark and ray products from unsustainable fisheries or from illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing." 

Sant added: “A little effort now to improve traceability could go a long way towards stemming the further decline of shark and ray populations and help to achieve the goal of trade only occurring in legal and sustainably sourced products." 

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