As the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) continues expanding to protect more species, a bill now before Congress would expand SIMP even further to cover all imported seafood, while expanding labeling requirements as well. Meanwhile, a similar proposed rule at NOAA would extend SIMP-style traceability regulation to domestic seafood, starting with shrimp and abalone.
Whether or not these proposals pass right now, they are clear signs of things to come.
Labeling is at the heart of these efforts. For example, U.S. House Bill 3075, introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California), would require labels to include:
- Where the seafood was caught or cultivated
- The species’ market name, scientific name, and Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Information System Number
- Whether the item was wild or farmed
- Harvest method
- Harvest date
- Harvesting company name
- Name and flag-state of vessel
- For farmed seafood: the name and location of the farm; the method of cultivation; source and type of feed
- NOAA Fisheries International Fisheries Trade Permit number issued to the importer, if applicable
The good news is that for law-abiding companies in North America all this information is easy to access.
The hard part is the time required for data entry at receiving, and keeping product origins traceable even as a lot is subdivided on the processing plant floor, with some pieces shipping fresh while others are frozen, canned, dried or mixed with other products.
Fortunately, traceability systems offer fast, affordable ways to meet both challenges.
One such system is SIMBA, from Dynamic Systems Inc.. A pioneer in barcode labeling and traceability well known in Alaska seafood since 1984, SIMBA simplifies data entry in every possible way, from touchscreen tablets that dispense with keyed data, to handheld barcode scanners, printers and other interconnected devices that make changes easy, to a central office PC module that monitors the entire plant process in real time.
SIMBA integrates plant-floor devices, importing scale readings to tablets, printing labels, uploading data to IRP systems, making tracking a matter of quick barcode scans, and automatically generating bills of lading and shipping manifests.
Increasingly, traceability solutions are central to efficient, accountable seafood processing. What was once a peripheral labeling function can now be the management hub. SIMBA integrates with a full suite popular seafood IRP systems like NetYield, NetSuite and Sage, and it works with popular hardware from multiple manufacturers as well.
Better yet, despite its robust features and ease of use, SIMBA remains one of the more reasonably priced systems offering end-to-end traceability and full-featured labeling.
“Some of our biggest fans are the seasonal processors,” says Dynamic Systems’ founder Alison Falco. “The system is so easy to use that seasonal businesses retain system knowledge, and new employees learn it quickly.”
As rising pressure to fish sustainably has created enormous demand for traceability, more and more processors find opportunity in these new mandates. Traceability systems like SIMBA provide a clear path forward, incorporating more and more product data while reducing the time needed to manage it.