Grimsby seafood specialist Flatfish is leading the UK in hi-tech traceability

A GRIMSBY seafood company, leading the way when it comes to traceability, is preparing to showcase its work to the wider industry.

Flatfish Mapping is a recent online project developed by the Stansfield family behind the plaice, Lemon sole and Farmed Halibut specialist.

State-of-the-art processing facilities are now being matched by vessel tracking technology at the Stirling Street base, helping to ensure sustainable and environmental credentials are exactly what the end customers expect. Directors Richard and Reece Stansfield are spearheading the programme, linking various web-portals and feeding in their own information to generate all the vital information, in real-time.

Richard said: “We have been working on a few projects. We started by looking at all the ports in the UK, drawing up a bit of a Flatfish battle-map.


ONLINE: Flatfish director Reece Stansfield previews Flatfish Mapping.
ONLINE: Flatfish director Reece Stansfield previews Flatfish Mapping.

” The majority of our fish was sourced from Iceland six years ago, now it is nearly all British fish, and all the time volumes have been increasing, too. We wanted to know of our core species, how much was landed and in what volumes.”

It will be demonstrated at next month’s Humber Seafood Summit, when key industry figures gather in Grimsby to share best practice, consumer and supplier insight.

“We are happy to share it. This system is on a global scale,” said Mr Stansfield. With species such as tuna under the microscope, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fish also an issue, Flatfish Mapping can help evidence fisheries under scrutiny, while providing the high level of detail required by British supermarkets.

“It is all about transparency,” said Mr Stansfield. “We want to be able to prove where the fish is from, and now we know where the boat is fishing, and how many days it is at sea for. It is all the information the retailer wants, and without doubt the correct information.”

Reece, son of fellow director Steve Stansfield, has brought the technology forward, and is delighted to be digitalising some of the knowledge passed down over the last 35 years.

“We all work together and we are all very passionate about it,” said Reece. “Even when we are away from the business we like to know where our boats are fishing.”

It has led to a smartphone application, with 50 vessels currently on the Stansfields’ personalised radar, and potential to pick up early volume indications and prepare the factory to handle it.

“It is guaranteeing continuity of volume for the business. We want to supply more British fish through the company, we support the British fleets,” Richard added. “We want to bring more provenance to our customer base.”

Mike Montgomerie, gear technologist at industry authority Seafish, used to work on some of the boats now being tracked. He said: “They have been very proactive. It is all leading towards what the industry calls fully documented fisheries, where vessels have to evidence exactly where they are all the time. It is refreshing to see a company take such a big interest in the boats, it is tremendous really. For them to strive to lead the way in their own sector, fish processing, is one thing, but to be taking such an interest in the raw product, how it is caught and the impact it has, is exactly what Seafish is all about.

“It’s great to see this kind of committed and proactive use of technology and collaboration.”

Humber Seafood Summit takes place on September 18 and September 19. Registration is still open. For more information e-mail

This article first appeared in Business Telegraph, available online now as an

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