BlueTrace Blog

2 min read

BlueTrace: Continue Growth and Product Expansion

By Chip Terry on Mar 13, 2024 4:50:06 PM

BlueTrace Grows to 430 clients, prints over 5 million tags, and expands product.

Castine, ME - BlueTrace, the software platform designed for the seafood industry, today has 430 clients across North America. As of last week, their clients had printed 5,007,844 tags and labels. Every tag includes a QR code connecting the regulatory and operational data needed to simplify seafood operations and compliance.

BlueTrace is rapidly expanding beyond shellfish and tagging. Today many BlueTrace customers use the software to track their inventory of tuna, swordfish, scallops, lobster, seaweed, and other species. Over 60 clients use their distributor solution to get advanced shipping notices and create digital receiving and shipping logs. With clients in almost every coastal state in the US, every coastal province in Canada, and in Mexico and Australia, BlueTrace works with a wide range of clients.

Several customers are piloting their latest version of the platform which includes item catalog management, real-time inventory, and pricing management. Now folks in the office can see what is happening on the floor in real time. Sales and operations know how many oysters, how many pounds of tuna or crates of lobsters they have at any given moment.  Improving operations, reducing waste and giving them control over their business.  

“Our mission is to simplify the seafood industry. The seafood industry has been around forever, and it does a lot of things well, but they are drowning in redundant paperwork. The lack of visibility into their operations makes it hard for them to scale.  90% of the seafood industry is small to midsize businesses that simply lack reasonably priced tools to do their jobs effectively.” says Chip Terry, CEO.  

“We love the way the BlueTrace team always listens and comes up with simple solutions that help companies like us grow.” says Trey McMillan of LowCountry Oysters in South Carolina.

“BlueTrace is just what we need to simplify our complex paperwork and reduce errors. Our regulator is super happy and we feel more in control,” says Paul Hagan of Denarius Trading in Boston.  

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requires companies to have detailed records of their food safety practices, including information about incoming shipments, according to Joe Lasprogata Vice President at Samuel and Son Seafood. 

For a company like Samuels with multiple locations and high volumes of seafood, this can be a cumbersome and time-consuming task. By utilizing technology that provides visibility into incoming shipments and helps to seamlessly collect the necessary information for FSMA compliance, companies can streamline their processes and ensure they are meeting all regulatory requirements. This not only helps to protect the safety of their products and customers but also saves time and resources for the company.

The next version of BlueTrace, which will be rolling out this Spring, includes a cloud-based system for managing sales and purchasing–while creating the invoices and purchase orders needed in their existing accounting systems.  

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2 min read

US Aquaculture: Opportunity Abounds

By Chip Terry on Feb 28, 2024 8:39:32 PM

This is the first of three related articles exploring the issue of aquaculture in the US.  This series was sparked by NOAA seeking comments on the US National Aquaculture Development Plan. The goal of the plan is to: strengthening U.S. commitment to food security, climate resilience, and the protection of threatened and endangered species.

The last plan was done 40 years ago!

US Aquaculture Could Feed the World

The National Aquaculture Development Plan draft recognizes that, aquaculture done right is good for our health, our environment and our communities.  But we are lagging: 

  • Not Enough Domestic Production: The US imports 65% - 70% of of seafood consumed domestically.  A $17 Billion annual deficit.  Despite having a huge coastline and prolific fisheries.

  • Lagging Seafood Consumption: The U.S. federal dietary guidelines recommend an increase in annual seafood consumption from 19.2 pounds per capita to 26 pounds per capita.

  • US Aquaculture Lags Wild Fisheries: U.S. aquaculture produces $1.5 billion in annual farm gate sales, or 20 percent of U.S. seafood production by value. In the rest of the world, aquaculture produces ~50% of the seafood--and is the fastest growing protein source in the world.  

The USDA and NOAA are investing to expand US aquaculture.  The range of investment in science, technology, and workforce development are compelling.  

A challenge that really caught our attention is the recognition that the vast majority of seafood companies lack tools to compete globally. In part this is because ~90% of seafood companies (both wild-caught and aquaculture) are small or medium companies who can't afford to invest in current systems.    

 We see this every day.  

  • Small oyster farms that grow a great product but struggle to get it to market–while complying with all the regulatory paperwork and marketing their product.  Leading to burnout of owners. 

  • Clam buyers who are the mercy of distant markets setting the price.

  • Fisherman who never know if the product they are harvesting will sell for enough to cover the costs.

  • Small wholesalers hustling every day to deliver fish to the retailers and restaurants in their community.

  • The mismatch in supply and demand that leaves fish rotting while consumers can’t get what they want. The USDA estimates 39% of seafood is lost in the supply chain.

Meanwhile consumers cite three key reasons that they do not consume more seafood.

  1. Expense: seafood is an expensive product
  2. Quality: Freshness is a key
  3. Concerns over food safety

All of these issues relate directly to the lack of tools in the seafood industry. Small firms reinventing the wheel and doing things manually increases expenses.  A cumbersome system slows the movement of product while decreasing quality and raising food safety concerns. 

The focus by USDA and NOAA on these important challenges is heartening.  Our food security and the health of our rural waterfront communities relies on getting this right.

In our next series, we'll look at options for the industry and government to help. 

Just an fyi: while some consolidation is likely we believe that there is a place for well-run small and mid-size businesses to thrive in this world.  It is the mission of BlueTrace to make that a reality.  


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3 min read

The Crimes Behind the Seafood You Eat

By Chip Terry on Oct 19, 2023 1:04:44 PM

The article from the New Yorker is devastating:  A huge Chinese fleet, manned with at least some slave labor destroying the global squid fisheries to put calamari on the plate of US consumers.  

In a deeply researched article, the authors follow calamari harvested illegally off the the coast of the Galapagos, where at least one crewman died, back to China and then on to "at least 62 American Importers" who sold on to Costco, Kroger, Safeway and others.  

Obviously every industry has bad actors and not every bad act can be stopped.  But the industry needs to move to a new system that prioritizes understanding the chain of custody from boat to plate.  There are a lot of government, NGO and commercial efforts to address this challenge.  But fundamentally, the handwritten paperwork driven by well intentioned regulations is letting bad things happen--while killing productivity.  

A digital first system could help expose challenges a lot earlier and make this type of fraud much harder.  To use a couple of example:

1) The Seafood Import Monitoring Program is a really well intentioned program, but the reality of just uploading documents to a government database is not helping weed out IUUs.  And as of this date, squid is not covered by the program.

2) The MSC/BAP/ASC certification programs all rely on in-person monitors who show up once or twice a year.  And even if we think those are effective, certification programs cover less than 40% of the worlds fisheries.

3) The complexity is huge: 80%+ of US seafood is imported.  Seafood is the most traded protein in the world (3x beef).  The number of products is massive (we often see 1,500+ SKUs at a mid-sized distributor).  

So what are the solutions? Having worked with 100s of seafood operations, I would propose a few things. 

1) Mandate digital data in near real time:  Structured data like (time/location of harvest, fishing vessel, size of catch, species caught) that is then passed through the supply chain lets us find bad actors more easily.  For instance, if a ship reports landing 10,000lbs, but buyers report buying 100,000lbs that should  trigger a follow up.

2) Align FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) so they capture the same data in the same format. Making it easier on all the participants. This includes applying a Traceability Lot Code from the beginning of the chain--even on imported products. 

3) Mandate Labels with Key Information: IMG_6799The labeling of seafood with crayons on wet wax boxes makes it way too easy for bad actors.  Some variation of shellfish tags would be a good start.

IMG_3587 2

4) Lean into DNA/RNA testing: Modern tests can tell the location of a catch--if there is a good underlying database to match to. Sample testing key lots to see if the DNA matched the digital record would be highly effective in rooting out bad actors.

5) Keep it Simple and Inexpensive: Make it easy for folks to comply.  IMG_6802This should not be a mandate that costs the entire chain.  Paired with a simple system, should be a reduction of other regulatory paperwork that maybe isn't as important. 

Government, NGOs and the industry all have roles to play, but we should agree that we want to cover 100% of seafood with an easy to use system that gets everyone on the same page.  Stories like that above hurt the entire industry--even though the vast majority is doing the right thing. 


Topics: #FSMA
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2 min read

BlueTrace's Durable, Mobile Tagging Solution

By Cat Ganim on Sep 19, 2023 8:57:47 AM

Our primary goal at BlueTrace is to streamline operations for our customers and save them valuable time. A significant aspect of achieving this goal is minimizing the time required to create tags and attach them to shellfish containers.

The journey of finding a reliable and durable paper product for our mobile printers has been an ongoing endeavor. However, the main challenge we encountered was the lengthy process of sourcing the perfect paper stock, obtaining samples, and conducting thorough testing.

But here's the exciting part: After collaborating with three vendors and meticulously testing five different paper stocks and perforation patterns, we have finally discovered a thicker paper stock that surpasses expectations in terms of durability and ruggedness for shellfish tags and labels. Now, let me delve into the process we underwent and the ultimate decisions we made...

What we were looking for:

  1. Given the fast-paced nature of our customers' operations, it is essential to source a paper stock that can withstand the rapid and sometimes messy tearing at the perforation.
  2. Our paper needs to endure the significant strain exerted by metal clips or zip ties inserted into the hole punches.
  3. We require paper that offers both vertical and horizontal tear resistance, striking a delicate balance between thickness and strength, without compromising the number of tags on each roll.

What we decided on:

  1. We selected a game-changing paper stock for our customers: a robust, 6mil paper stock that is way harder to tear.
  2. This stock can have custom branding applied to the back. To ensure the ink doesn't smudge, a lamination is required.
  3. Although fewer tags fit on each roll due to the thicker stock, we will continue to provide 1500 tags per case.

What paper that failed our testing looks like:

Check out one of the 4mil paper stocks that DID NOT pass my rigorous tests for speedy tearing. Notice that on a few sheets, the rip was not clean.


Winner, winner chicken dinner!

Here is how the new 6mil paper stock fared when pressure tested in my "printer lab" (a fancy word for my basement). Good news: IT PASSED!


We'll be rolling out this durable paper stock to customers in Oct 2023. 

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2 min read

Greenwashing and Shellfish Tags

By Chip Terry on Sep 11, 2023 2:07:00 PM

We have seen a few tag materials that claim to be compostable and recyclable.  If true, this would be a boon to the seafood industry and we would be first in line to embrace it. But the reality is the commercial applications don’t live up to the hype.IMG_9934

Here are the labels that one European company claims is Biodegradable, Compostable and Recyclable.  In a technical sense they are right, but the details really matter.IMG_9933

Recyclable with a code “7” is essentially non-recyclable in most communities.  Here are two descriptions from the web: 

Any type of plastic that doesn’t fit into one of the first six categories falls under this heading. Products stamped with a 7 are often made out of multiple plastic types or out of other types of plastic that can’t easily be recycled. (

Number 7 plastics often fall under the miscellaneous category, where anything goes. For years, plastics with resin code 7 weren’t recyclable. This is one of the reasons it isn’t recycled much. Today, the recyclers that recycle number 7 plastics use modern, high rate composting which is costly to run. (

What about the "OK to Compost" label? The OK to compost label is a well respected European standard. According to their website: 

Products that are solely OK compost INDUSTRIAL-certified are those that compost only in industrial composting facilities (at temperatures between 55 to 60°C) [131°F to 140°F], so products that are solely OK compost INDUSTRIAL-certified should not go into the garden compost. (

Bottom Line: If you live in a community with a really sophisticated recycling program or have an industrial scale composting system this material is good for the environment.  If you don’t (and most of us don’t) it is just pure greenwashing.  Might as well save your money.  

For more information on the broader challenge of plastic recycling, this Frontline Documentary is a good starting point.  This is a hard problem and I wish we had a better solution--but making consumers feel good by misleading them is not helpful to anyone.  

The bigger problem for the industry as a whole is the packaging (boxes, bags, styrofoam containers) that are necessary for safe and efficient food handling, but are seldom recycled. 

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1 min read

Recalls don't have to be scary

By Chip Terry on Sep 5, 2023 12:02:29 PM

Recalls happen--fortunately not very frequently--but they are a fact of life in any food industry. Most recalls are precautionary.  In other words, there are nodist-recall-smconfirmed illnesses.  

So far this year we have seen recalls in ME, MA, RI, CT, NY, VA, Canada, and elsewhere.  

If handled properly, your company should have limited/no liability and it should not impact your operations.  

When a recall happens, you should get that product out of the system as quickly as possible.  This is why companies are supposed to have a written recall plan.  And why inspections often include a mock recall.  

Knowing how much time this takes and how important it is, BlueTrace built a recall feature that automates much of the recall. 

The recall feature is included in all our products as part of the base package. Handling recalls properly is important for the health of the entire industry and we want to make sure everyone can do it properly. 

The process is simple:

1) Identify the lots that are being recalled (in the log).

2) Push the Recall button (note only the owner/manager has access to this).

3) Fill out the form and push enter

Two things will happen:

1) If there is an email in the system for the client, we will send them a notice

2) We will change the landing page under the QR code so anyone scanning the QR code with their phone will see that there is a recall for this lot.

You should still reach out personally to any of your impacted client and you should still keep track of what product has been returned and/or destroyed.

We hope it is a feature you never have to use.  

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1 min read

Virginia Oyster Recall

By Chip Terry on Aug 11, 2023 12:23:15 PM

Below are the details of a recall published on August 11, 2023--for oyster harvested in June 2023!!  I sure hope these are not still in circulation.  We checked with our clients and they are all clear. Hopefully no one got sick, but it clearly cost the folks involved a ton of time and hurt their reputation.   

The regulators are doing their job and making sure we all stay safe--and our industry stays healthy.  Let's all help make their jobs easy.  

Bottom line: Pay attention to those rain closures. 

The Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Safety and Waterborne Hazards is reporting 10,000 oysters were harvested on June 28, 2023, from lease # 20655 in Pungoteague Creek when a rainfall closure was in effect, and therefore, the product which was harvested is deemed unfit for human consumption. The original harvest date is 6/28/2023 and was wet stored until 7/3/2023 and/or 7/5/2023, when the shellstock oysters were shipped and entered into
interstate commerce. Records obtained indicate that the affected product was sent to Texas and Washington DC on 7/3/2023 and to Massachusetts on 7/5/2023. It is not yet known where the product was subsequently shipped and no illnesses have been reported involving this lease and harvest date.

A recall is being conducted. As more information becomes available, updates will be provided.
Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference
4801 Hermitage Road, Suite 102
Richmond, VA 23227
Phone: 804-330-6380

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3 min read

Seed Funding Announcement

By Alessandra Bosco on Feb 16, 2023 9:00:00 AM


Alessandra Bosco
(202) 821-7245

BlueTrace raises $4 million to modernize the seafood industry

New funding will enable the industry pioneer to modernize seafood operations from tideline to table.

Castine, ME, February 16, 2023 - BlueTrace, the easiest and most powerful traceability solution for seafood harvesters, growers, distributors, processors, and dealers, today announced $3.2 million in Seed funding, bringing the company’s fundraising total to $4.1 million. The round was led by York IE, Maine Venture Fund, and CEI Ventures, with participation from various angel investors, including SeaAhead

“Sustainable seafood is great for our communities, our planet, and our health,” said Chip Terry, CEO. “Our mission is to keep the seafood supply chain safe, efficient, and compliant by digitizing key transactions to make seamless traceability possible. We have a long list of desired features from our clients — this new funding will help us deliver them.”

Joe Raczka, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at York IE, has joined BlueTrace’s board of directors. Raczka will collaborate with existing board members Abigail Carroll, an oyster farmer turned investor and podcaster, and Dave Ford, a tech entrepreneur and angel investor.

“BlueTrace is bringing a unique digital solution to a traditionally non-digital, tech-laggard industry,” Raczka said. “Chip and the rest of the talented team have proven their product market fit and will continue improving the seafood landscape.”

After identifying a need to manage and track harvests in the shellfish market more effectively, Terry and his partners founded BlueTrace, formerly known as Oyster Tracker, in 2018. After initial traction with shellfish harvesters and distributors, BlueTrace has begun expanding its digital platform to support the broader seafood landscape. 

Seafood organizations of any size can use BlueTrace’s cloud-based solutions from their smartphones to create logs (harvest, HACCP, receiving, shipping, cooling, etc.) and tag their products. The system empowers frontline employees to easily track and trace shipments. A regulatory rules engine increases compliance while reducing redundant paperwork.  

In November, the FDA announced the final food traceability rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will begin to take effect in 2023. BlueTrace already enables seafood businesses to comply with these increasingly stringent requirements.

“BlueTrace is a game-changer that’s meeting the unique needs of the seafood industry,” said Joe Lasprogata, Vice President, New Product Development at Samuels Seafood. “Our company moves millions of pounds of seafood each year, which obviously means a lot of moving parts. BlueTrace’s platform helps us organize our shipments and give us confidence that we’re staying compliant. ”

BlueTrace announced 121% growth in 2022, expanding its customer base from 150 clients to over 350. With clients in all but two coastal U.S. states and most Canadian provinces, BlueTrace has become the go-to solution for seafood tagging and traceability. 

The company has won two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees fishery regulations.

Visit or email to learn more and request a quote.

About BlueTrace 
BlueTrace offers the easiest and most powerful traceability platform for seafood growers, wholesalers, distributors, and dealers. Its mobile solutions, designed specifically for the seafood industry, enable users to reduce redundant data entry and errors, streamline operations, and trace their products from tideline to table. Learn more at

Media Contact
Alessandra Bosco
(202) 821-7245

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2 min read

What If? Digital Receiving and Labeling

By Chip Terry on Feb 14, 2023 10:46:50 AM

The receiving dock at seafood companies can be chaos.  IMG_0935

We recently watched a harried guy with a clipboard direct six forklifts unloading 14 tractor trailers' worth of seafood one morning. Salmon from Norway, squid from California, tuna from Costa Rica, lobster from Maine, mussels from Canada, oysters from the Chesapeake. The list went on and on.  

All of it had different paperwork. Some carried MSC certification. Others had SIMP paperwork. Some had temperature gauges. Some had GS1 bar codes — most didn't. Measurements varied from counts, to weights, volumes or just a count of boxes.  

We watched this very talented and experienced guy make errors — a five instead of a nine, the wrong date (I would have made many more errors). Most product came in with bills of lading, invoices, and wax boxes with handwritten and/or very inconsistent labels.  


The paperwork then all went into a back room where inventory was updated, orders were filled, checks were written, and hopefully everything lined up. The time spent, the error rates, and the slow inventory churn cause trouble for everyone.

We have been working on a better way with our clients: digital labels and digital receiving

Digital Receiving
Our clients now receive receive-favoriteeverything on their phones and take pictures as needed, thus reducing errors and speeding up all the back-office challenges. We can also integrate this data with most accounting systems. It's super easy to use — a client needs almost no training. Accuracy improves dramatically, and the time spent on redundant data entry drops.

Digital Labeling 
Our most successful clients also ask their partners to use our tags or labels. That way, when the sender prints a tag or label, the receiver gets an Advance Shipping Notification. They can process all the paperwork ahead of time, and when the product arrives, just scan the QR code and confirm receipt.  Now everything has a clean label and access to all the data points a business needs. No need to talk GS1, GDST, EDI. or any of the other acronym soups.  Just print a label and stick it on the box (or even directly on a fish).  

Bottom line: Digital receiving and digital labeling reduce errors, improve throughput, and make your business manageable.  



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2 min read

FDA Final Rule for Food Traceability

By Chip Terry on Nov 15, 2022 4:19:12 PM

The FDA today announced the final rule for Food Traceability that was required by the Food Safety Modernization Act law.  We will explore this is future blog posts, but let's start with the high level: 

Food Safety First: In the words of the FDA, this rule is "designed to facilitate faster identification and rapid removal of potentially contaminated food from the market, resulting in fewer foodborne illnesses and/or deaths" It has nothing to do with fraud, sustainability, fisheries management or any of the other reasons folks implement traceability systems. 

Most fresh foods are covered, including:  fresh cut fruits and vegetables, shell eggs, and nut butters, as well as certain fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, ready-to-eat deli salads, cheeses, and seafood products.  

In the seafood world, the exemptions include: Scallop Abductor muscle, and Catfish.

In a change from the original law is: Raw bivalve molluscan shellfish that are covered by the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program...are exempt from the requirements of the rule.  A good thing since the rules for shellfish are already tighter than this new rule.  

The rule is all about record keeping: In particular most firms are required to supply information to the FDA in a "sortable spreadsheet" within 24 hours of request. The records must cover: Critical Tracking Events (CTEs) and required Key Data Elements (KDEs).

Traceability Lot Code: These records must be linked with a Traceability Lot Code (TLC) that does not change unless the product is transformed. TLCs can only be assigned by either the First Land Based Receiver or a Processor who is Transforming the product.  

You Have time: The rule will take 3 years to be fully implemented.  In other words, take a breadth, explore the rule and then think about what needs to change.

Here is a video from the FDA using an example of a Tuna.





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