Consumers can have certainty that they’re buying legally-caught, sustainable tuna
Global environmental protection organisation, World Wildlife Fund in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand will be introducing blockchain technology to the Pacific Islands’ tuna industry to help prevent illegal fishing and human rights abuses.
The Blockchain Supply Chain Traceability Project is using digital technology in the fresh and frozen tuna sectors of the Western and Central Pacific region to strengthen supply chain management by tracking fish from vessel to the supermarket.
In partnership with US-based software company ConsenSys and information and communications technology implementer TraSeable, WWF has been able to help tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji to track the journey of the tuna from when it is caught, through processing and to the distributor.
The project will test the use of Viant, which was built as an asset- and domain-agnostic platform, in the Pacific tuna industry.
WWF is now in discussions with tuna retailers to complete the “bait-to-plate” cycle with the hopes of creating a QR code for consumers on tuna tins that would tell them if the tuna had been sourced sustainably and ethically.
The buying and selling of Pacific tuna is currently either tracked by paper records, or not at all. Now fishermen can register their catch on the blockchain through radio-frequency identification (RFID) e-tagging and scanning fish.
By leveraging blockchain technology, which provides a digital, tamper-proof record of information accessible to everyone, consumers can have certainty that they’re buying legally-caught, sustainable tuna with no slave labour or oppressive conditions involved. A simple scan of tuna packaging using a smartphone app will provide information on when and where the fish was caught, by which vessel and fishing method.
According to WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O’Gorman, testing for the technology will result in a usable product by year’s end. Looking forward, he said, “The next phase is to work with the retail sector. We’ve worked on the front end and now we need to look at the rest of the supply chain, right up to the plate.”
He added: “There’s a number of technical and logistical challenges … but we’re in discussions with a few retailers … and through the course of this year I think we’ll get from bait to plate and be able to address the sustainability and human rights issues.”
Steps are currently underway to find a retailer to partner in the project and use blockchain to complete the tuna’s traceability story.
“We are thrilled to be working with WWF and Sea Quest Fiji on this project, as ConsenSys has a keen interest in supporting applications of blockchain that offer an opportunity for social impact and doing good in the world,” said Tyler Mulvihill, Co-Founder and Global Business Development, Viant.io.
Blockchain technology could potentially play a key role in food supply chains, helping ensure safety, providing origin traceability and enabling customers to verify classifications, such as “organic” or “halal”. This includes the fishing industry, which is threatened by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.