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article imageBlockchain tech could improve sustainability in the tuna industry

By James Walker     Jan 22, 2018 in Technology
The WWF has started using blockchain technology to help eradicate illegal fishing in the tuna industry. The organisation said the transparency of blockchain's open ledger could make fishing more sustainable and prevent human rights abuses in the industry.
The WWF announced the initiative in a media release earlier this month, as reported by Vice. It's an example of blockchain's potential to improve the accountability of all industries, not just financial services businesses. By combining blockchain with a smartphone app, the WWF has created a solution which could enable traceability of every tuna fish.
The WWF's Australia, Fiji and New Zealand divisions have teamed up with tech innovator ConsenSys, IT provider TraSeable and tuna fishing and processing firm Sea Quest Fiji Ltd to develop the initial pilot. Under the project, the IT firms are assisting Sea Quest Fiji to incorporate a blockchain ledger into its regular processing of tuna catches.
The eventual aim for the project is for every tuna to be entered into the blockchain. Details of its catch and its processing are added as it progresses through distribution to reach store shelves. A supermarket consumer would then be able to use a smartphone app to scan the tuna packaging, revealing the date and location of the catch as well as details on the fishing method used.
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It's the use of blockchain tech which has made the entire project possible. Although there have been previous efforts to make fish catches traceable, they've generally failed because records have been hard to verify. Blockchain's immutable nature and open ledger address these issues. It also means the information is available globally with near-realtime precision.
"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," said Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia. "Ridding the industry of these sorts of unsustainable practices will help protect fishers from human rights abuses and save then environment. This Blockchain pilot is part of WWF's broader innovation initiative on how technology can help save the planet."
The WWF and Sea Quest Fiji are now seeking a retailer to partner in the project. If an appropriate fish merchant can be found, blockchain will be tested in a complete bait-to-plate fishing process for the first time. In the meantime, Sea Quest Fiji is already adding all its caught fish to the blockchain as soon as they come aboard its fishing vessels. Fish are tracked using a combination of RFID tags and QR codes that are linked to unique blockchain records.
More about blockchain, digital transformation, Digital, Illegal fishing