September 20, 2020

Traceability is essential to export seafood products to the EU

Traceability is essential to be able to export to the European Union (EU) and that is why Central America has to work in this area, taking advantage of, for example, the application of technology in artisanal fisheries, said specialists gathered in Panama in a forum on competitiveness.

"Traceability is essential because in order to export to the EU, and the United States alike, it is necessary to be able to show where the product comes from (fishing) and ensure that it is being fished in a legal way," the Spanish told Efe Valentín Díaz, international rural development advisor.

Traceability "is one of the serious problems we have in the" Central American region, where there are only identification systems "which is not the same," said the expert and one of the panelists at the Forum for the promotion of competitiveness in the regional fishing value chain, organized by the Regional Center for the Promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Cenpromype) and the EU.

However, traceability "does not guarantee the quality" of the product "nor its safety," said Diaz, so "we must invest in all sectors of the value chain."

Díaz, executive director of the company Márgenes Internacional, which provides consulting and technical assistance to various business management projects in the region and in the world, said that technology is very important due to very significant aspects related to processing, packaging and the Cold chain.

The issue was also addressed by Chilean businessman Alfredo Sfeir, executive director of the ShellCatch company, which referred to affordable technology for traceability of the fishery product.

The Sfeir company was founded in the United States in 2011 and has a presence in southern California, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Malaysia, Germany and Pakistan, working on technological innovation with artisanal fishers through the installation of cameras and a application that verifies your fishing gear.

"We are the only 'online market place' (on a platform) that allows us to show maximum verification in the boat with the best possible price towards the fisherman, and a good offer to the buyer finally," said Sfeir in the forum, which is held until this Friday in the Panamanian capital.

He added that today the artisanal fleet does not have many obligations to verify its fishing, "but we put what is a camera with geolocation that allows us to know everything about the fishing process."

This system is "to be able to tell the story and give security and confidence to the final buyer that what they are buying is of the highest quality and of the highest confidence, the most responsible, and that they do not have to have any regrets because they they are using the corresponding fishing gear and there is no mammal mortality, "he said.

To date, 316 of these cameras are installed in Mexico; 50 in Chile; 20 in Peru; 2 in the United States, 6 in Malaysia; 2 in Germany, and 2 in Pakistan.

Currently, according to Sfeir, fisheries management in the region is "very poor" due to the lack of systematization of data of its work, being artisanal fishing, "before even industrialists", the most open to implement it "in order to have a personal, commercial sovereignty and for the benefit of the country. "

"There is an impressive will of artisanal fishermen who are the ones who have more efforts to transform an industry that today has no information, is fraudulent, is mostly illegal, and the most illegal in the world," he said.

For now, this ShellCatch project, which is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in the countries of the region to connect artisanal fishermen with their local markets.

Sfeir said that it is in his company's best interest to "see if in Central America there is a possibility and an opportunity to scale this model that is already approved" by the IDB.

In the forum, which began on Thursday, the conditions of the regional and world fisheries market, its growth potential, and the characteristics that a value chain of the sector must have in order for Central America to present a competitive exportable offer are analyzed to the EU, which is its second destination market for products only behind the United States.

. (tagsToTranslate) traceability (t) fundamental (t) export (t) products (t) EU

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