A pair of young Nova Scotia-based entrepreneurs hope their seafood-tracking technology will become the industry standard to help exporters reduce waste and improve accountability.
Sedna Technologies, which officially went to market this month, uses autonomous sensors and cloud-based software to track, trace and monitor seafood “from catch to plate,” according to the company’s founders.
Sheamus MacDonald said by keeping track of their products, companies are able to identify where exactly mortality and waste occurs, allowing them to see where the issues are and how to mitigate them.
“Currently we’re targeting the live lobster industry in Atlantic Canada, and one of the biggest things is that with the growing international market, a lobster that’s export quality should remain export quality throughout the supply chain,” said MacDonald, 29.
“So what our system is capable of doing is not only monitor the conditions in which it was held throughout the lifespan, we’re also able to track the quality.”
Sedna uses sensors to monitor water quality to pinpoint problem areas with holding tanks before issues occur. The technology also monitors conditions in which products are shipped.
Data is fed to a massive database that collects and stores this information, which exporters and buyers can access through mobile phone and online applications to keep track of inventory in real-time every step of the way.
“We’re able to provide the traceability history of where they source the product, as well as the products in their inventory,” said MacDonald.
“We’re able to do that all completely automated, so as the product moves throughout … we can basically replace all their pen and paper practices.”
He said Sedna is working with some of Nova Scotia’s largest live lobster exporters, and has “generated significant traction” both in the northeastern United States and other countries for live shellfish operations.
MacDonald sees the company as a way to improve ocean sustainability.
“With increased demand for ocean resources, it’s not only managing the resources prior to harvesting, it’s managing them throughout the supply chain. So by reducing the amount of mortality and waste, we’re actually helping get more product to end consumers,” he said.
He added that the technology can also further bolster Nova Scotia’s booming lobster industry.
“By exporting live lobster, that brings back a lot of money back into Nova Scotia from international markets, and that’s something the province is very keen on doing,” he said.
“And if we’re able to aid and help in making sure that more product gets to market, and that money does come back into the Nova Scotia economy, then that’s a plus for the province.”
The company started after MacDonald, who has experience in the fishing industry, identified challenges and weaknesses while working with companies that exported live lobster.
After brainstorming with his former St. Francis Xavier University roommate and current business partner Aleksandr Stabenow, they came up with Sedna as a way to use technology to mitigate these problems.
Just over a year after its conception, Stabenow said the recently launched company continues to expand.
“We were focusing on the live lobster industry because it’s such a premium — it’s a $2 billion industry — but we’re also already expanding into other industries because there’s need for loss prevention and accountability in every single seafood supply chain,” said Stabenow, 28.
Earlier this month, Stabenow went to the FishTech Awards in Qingdao, China, where Sedna was identified as one of the top 10 technology startups globally for fisheries and aquaculture.
“It kinda solidified that we do have an innovative and unique product on a global scale, not just locally here in Nova Scotia,” he said.
Sedna operates out of Dartmouth’s Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE) and employs a small team of developers and salespeople.