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MSC certified yellowfin tuna processed at SeaQuest processing plant. Walu Bay, Suva, Fiji © WWF-Aus / Shiri Ram

MSC certified yellowfin tuna processed at SeaQuest processing plant. Walu Bay, Suva, Fiji © WWF-Aus / Shiri Ram

How blockchain & a smartphone can stamp out illegal fishing and slavery in the tuna industry

08 Jan 2018

Keywords
  • tuna
  • fisheries
  • food production
  • footprint
  • innovation
  • technology

WWF and its partners have introduced revolutionary blockchain technology to the Pacific Islands’ tuna industry, the first of its kind for this region, to help stamp out illegal fishing and human rights abuses.



For years there have been disturbing reports that consumers may have unknowingly bought tuna from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and, even worse, from operators who use slave labour.

But blockchain technology means that soon a simple scan of tuna packaging using a smartphone app will reveal where and when the fish was caught, by which vessel and fishing method.

Consumers will have certainty that they’re buying legally-caught, sustainable tuna with no slave labour or oppressive conditions involved.

Blockchain technology is a digital, tamper-proof record of information that is accessible to everyone.

As part of an innovative initiative, WWF-Australia, WWF-Fiji and WWF-New Zealand have teamed up with global tech innovator ConsenSys, information and communications technology (ICT) implementer TraSeable, and tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji Ltd. to deliver the project.

 

Brett “Blu” Heywood, SeaQuest Fiji CEO, Dermot O\

Sea Quest Fiji has been assisted to use blockchain technology, for the first time in the Pacific Island tuna industry, to track its tuna from the vessel to the processing facility to the distributor.

Now steps are underway to find a retailer to partner in the project and use blockchain to complete the tuna’s traceability story.

The appeal for a retailer is that their customers could scan a QR code with their smartphone and, for the first time, trace tuna products all the way from ‘bait to plate’ using blockchain technology that creates a “single version of the truth”.

In the past, firms relied on traditional web or paper based technologies to provide traceability. But this Blockchain system is immutable, verifiable, and unalterable.

It’s believed consumers will favour tuna products with this advanced level of transparency so that eventually the whole tuna industry adopts the blockchain technology, in turn squeezing out the illegal operators.

WWF-Australia CEO, Dermot O’Gorman, said: “Bait-to-plate transparency using the blockchain will mean there is no place to hide for illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing or those operators who use slave labour or impose horrific conditions.”

“Ridding the industry of these sorts of unsustainable practices will help protect fishers from human rights abuses and save the environment.

“This Blockchain pilot is part of WWF’s broader innovation initiative on how technology can help save the planet.”

“It’s a very exciting revolution that’s about to transform the industry and that will deliver multiple sustainable development goals,” he said.

Sea Quest Fiji CEO, Brett ‘Blu” Haywood, said: “From the moment the fish comes aboard the vessel the blockchain technology captures their journey in a digital manner and allows every person through the supply chain to see the story of that fish.”

“Sustainable fishing ensures the longevity of the fishing business, and Sea Quest wants to see sustainable fishing in the region. This blockchain project with the three WWF offices certainly gives the industry the best opportunity going forward,” Mr Haywood said.

Blockchain is being increasingly adopted by major corporations as organisations seek to develop applications that make the most of its unique attributes for security and accessibility.

ConsenSys’ Viant, a blockchain supply chain platform, has just announced collaborations to accelerate the deployment of blockchain-based supply chain systems with innovative global companies including WWF, Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline and Imaginea.

 

WWF-Australia media contact:
Senior Media Officer Mark Symons on 0400 985 571

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