Unifying a Fragmented Supply Chain: A Feasibility Study to Define the Best Traceability System for Marine By-Products

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Image: © Karen Murray


HSSMI and MarinTrust have embarked on a 3-month feasibility study, funded by the UK Seafood Innovation Fund’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), to define a traceability system for the UK’s marine by-product supply chain. 

Traceability systems are important for any supply chain in order to meet health and safety rules and assure consumers that the products they purchase are of a high quality and responsibly sourced. But how can the UK seafood and marine by-products industry agree on the ideal traceability system, when the supply chain is so fragmented and paper-based? 

Marine by-products are derived from processing seafood (head, fins, skin, viscera, backbone) and are often not perceived as a valuable resource. However, these by-products are growing in value; instead of being discarded, they are increasingly used in products for human consumption, such as, fish oil, cosmetics, and personal care products, but most importantly in fish feed (for fish and shellfish, including salmon and prawns, that are farmed for human consumption) 

HSSMI and MarinTrust’s Seafood Traceability (SeaTrace) project, funded by the UK Seafood Innovation Fund, will engage with and examine the existing marine by-products supply chain in the UK, identify the data that needs to be recorded and exchanged between various supply chain actors, and work to define a reliable and robust electronic traceability system for that industry. The study will provide more direction for industry stakeholders as to the best approach and technology for a traceability system and will contribute to de-risking the investment. Previously, this has been one of the main hurdles, as stakeholders have feared investing in one technology while the industry decides to move in another direction. There have also been concerns around interoperability of various systems in the supply chain (the ability of these systems to exchange and make use of the traceability information); a key issue that SeaTrace will look to address. 

SeaTrace is innovative in that it assesses the different tracking systems such as RFID, Barcode, and QR code in combination with cloud data storage architectures like blockchain technology. This combination will connect fragmented pieces of the supply chain, increase the transparency of material flows, and enhance data security. The key success of the project will be to identify the most appropriate, effective, and cost-effective solution for data collection and storage for the marine by-products industry in the UK. 

The study will start by assessing current methods and systems already in place across the marine by-products supply chain and then progress to identifying the key data and events along the supply chain that need to be recorded. It will then analyse technological solutions available on the market and propose a solution for the most viable system for implementation, with details on economic, environmental, and operational impacts and benefits of the solution. Rather than espousing one single technology based on its perceived benefits, SeaTrace will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of a range of advanced technologies. 

On this project, HSSMI is partnering with MarinTrust, the leading independent business-to-business certification programme for the marine ingredients value chain. The project is also supported by a complementary blend of government and industry in addition to a technology provider. 


About the UK Seafood Innovation Fund 

The UK Seafood Innovation Fund is a £10 million programme supporting new ideas to deliver cutting-edge technology and innovation to the UK’s fishing, aquaculture and seafood industries. 

Administered by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the programme encourages sustainable and innovative ideas to bring about seafood security, new partnerships across seafood and technology sectors, and to contribute to strong evidence-based management. 

Find out more about the UK Seafood Innovation Fund on their website and on Twitter @SeafoodFund. 


About MarinTrust

Marine Ingredients Certifications Ltd (09357209) operates the MarinTrust Programme, the leading independent business to business certification programme for the marine ingredient value chain, consisting of:

– the MarinTrust for Responsible Supply,

– the MarinTrust Chain of Custody for Responsible Supply

– and the MarinTrust Improver Programme.

Since opening for application in October 2009, over 150 plants in 27 different countries have gained MarinTrust certification and around 50% of the worlds combined production of marine ingredients is MarinTrust compliant. To find out more visit


Contact Details

Savina Venkova at

Francisca Krabberød at 


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