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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

NOAA, State lead international data collection project

The Obama administration’s plan to create a system to track the importing of seafood will create an opportunity for a massive database for government contractors.

The administration wants a system that will allow federal, state and local officials to collect information on any seafood as it enters the United States, according to a posting on the White House webpage.

The goal is to track down illegal fishing that costs the global economy between $10 billion and $23 billion a year.

The initiative is being led by NOAA and the State Department, and on Sunday in Boston, they unveiled a plan developed by the President’s Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.

One of the recommendations of the plan is to create a system to trace seafood from harvest to entry into the United States. And it takes a lot of data and data collection to do that.

The data collection and information sharing program will start with the most at-risk fish and seafood, such as Atlantic Bluefin tuna and sea bass. By September 2016, all at-risk fish will be tracked, according to the Washington Post. 

For the initiative to work, it’ll require close cooperation and partnership with many other countries. Seafood related issues are part of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

According to a Federal Register notice, there are some challenges that will need to be overcome to create a data collection and information sharing system:

  • A vast industry with a large amount of international and domestic trade.
  • Multiple federal agencies regulation only part of the trade or specific issues such as labeling.
  • Disparate information collection abilities among the agencies.
  • No common collection, analysis and sharing mechanism.
  • Federal and state jurisdiction issues.
  • Statutory constraints on using and sharing data collected by the federal government.
  • Weak institutions and poor data collection in some source countries.

The data elements to be collected are still being finalized, but some candidates include information on who caught the fish, including the name and the flag of the vessel, what species was caught, where and when the animal was caught, and information on transshipping and processing activities.

The recommendations from the task force call for standardizing the data collection elements within six months.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 16, 2015 at 9:32 AM

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