After nearly five years of its initial convening by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in partnership with the Global Food Traceability Center (IFT), the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) has now transitioned since October 3rd from an NGO-convened platform into a permanent organization that is self-sustaining, rooted in industry, and open to broad stakeholder involvement.   

The GDST has already positioned itself as one of the largest and most influential seafood industry platforms. The launch of the GDST standards in 2020 emerged as a game-changer supported by diverse but equally visionary seafood companies. Yet, the work of the GDST has just begun. This newly re-organized entity will deliver practical tools & services to support the implementation of the standards and will provide an ongoing place for industry dialogue and advocacy on the importance of digital and interoperable seafood traceability. 

“By connecting people to places, and people to people, traceability helps protect both ecosystems and communities. The GDST has grown into a significant, powerful Business to Business platform since its inception with an initiative from WWF and IFT. At WWF, we were glad to facilitate the launch of this game-changing reorganized independent institution and its standards, and we will continue to support the realization of its vision of a future for seafood traceability that is digital, interoperable, reliable, and affordable.”

Caroline Tippett, Vice President of Ocean Markets and Finance at WWF 

Increased Visibility and Growing Influence 

Despite the impact of the COVID pandemic on the seafood sector, the dialogue’s momentum has continued to grow.  The GDST quickly grew into a major international industry platform with membership including more than 100 companies from 28 different countries, representing over $35B in annual seafood production value. Many of these companies have now directly adopted the GDST standards or joined in endorsing them.   

The growth in formal endorsements and working partnerships from other major seafood industry platforms has also been exponential, including Sea Pact in North America, the UK Seafood Industry Alliance, ISSF, and GSSI. There’s also been excellent growth in the number of traceability solution vendors lining up to sell products and services that support GDST implementation – with over thirty vendors actively engaged and committed to developing GDST capable solutions. 

The increasing influence of the GDST standards is also evident in their public treatment by experts and stakeholder entities such as the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, GS1, Lloyds Register Foundation, the MSC and ASC, Planet Tracker, the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT), the U.N. Global Compact, the World Benchmarking Alliance Seafood Sustainability Index, and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  

Achieving industry-wide adherence to the GDST standards will still require continuing the rigorous work to support business practices and government policies that facilitate GDST implementation and business-smart traceability.   

“The GDST journey for the seafood industry is still at the beginning of the road. Creating the standard was the critical, initial step. Gaining adoption and penetration across a global industry is something else entirely—something that requires changing the culture of the industry itself.  Obviously, that is an enormous challenge, that we must address together. With the GDST relaunch we hope to continue working hand in hand with WWF and the seafood industry itself to make progress on traceability into a self-sustaining phenomenon.”

Gregory V. Brown, Executive Director of the GDST 

Proactive Leadership from WWF 

During the infancy phase of the platform, WWF and IFT staff drove the process by convening global companies and stakeholders and held the drafting pens to create robust traceability standards for the entire seafood industry. The result has been not only the standards themselves, but also a groundswell of industry support and endorsement.  

Several factors enabled the GDST work, drawing on WWF’s special strengths like the strategic use of WWF as a brand trusted by industry actors, the technical expertise of the organization and its wide network, and its strategic industry and conservation community credibility and relationships.  

What Happens Now for Industry Partners 

Much of what GDST has to offer will remain free and open to the public to support implementation, including the GDST standards themselves and access to supportive materials such as the GDST GitHub and Slack Channel, the Implementation Road Map Toolkit, Supplier Onboarding materials, and more.   

But while these will all remain freely available to the GDST public Resource Library, other key benefits, and services of GDST partnership will be available only to paying partners starting on October 3rd.  From that date forward, active participation in the GDST will require signing up for one of the new paid participant/partner options. 

A key goal of the new GDST is to assemble a global community of traceability-minded companies, industry organizations, and interested stakeholders.  The new partnership structure will expand partnership beyond companies involved in the production and marketing of seafood to include new partnership categories for traceability solution providers, certification and benchmarking organizations, and non-industry stakeholders including NGOs, academics, and government agencies. 

Learn more about the newly relaunched GDST and ways to get involved here.