For those who think blockchain is fishy, they may be right after all. That’s because a huge chunk of the world’s tuna may be tracked by blockchain technology as soon as next month.
Pacifical, the tuna marketing company created by eight Pacific island nations, announced this week at the SeaWeb Sustainable Seafood Summit in Barcelona “a blockchain initiative covering all its MSC certified sustainably caught tuna by the end of July 2018.”
According to Pacifical, this will be the first large-scale blockchain initiative in the $42 billion tuna industry.
“The system will cover the entire supply chain and chain of custody of about 35 million tuna fish caught annually in an area with a surface 40% bigger than Europe,” Pacifical said in a press statement. “More than 200 million consumer units of Pacifical tuna per year in over 23 countries can soon be traced and verified through the Ethereum blockchain.”
Thailand-based Atato will be implementing the project, which will cover over 100 fishing vessels.
“Equipped with smart contracts and IPFS decentralized storage, the new Ethereum system will integrate well with Pacifical’s developing traceability solutions, [Commercial Manager of the PNA Office Maurice] Brownjohn said. Meaning that, soon enough, more than 200 million consumer units of Pacifical tuna per year will be verified at the blockchain level. All products bearing the Pacifical and MSC logo will be given a unique tracking code that can be traced across the entire expanse of the supply chain journey courtesy of the blockchain system.”
Tracking fish with blockchain tech isn’t a new idea. Viant, TraSeable, SeaQuest Fiji, and the World Wildlife Fund announced a certification system for fish earlier this year. Viant is part of the Brooklyn-based incubator, ConsenSys, started by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin.
At first blush, it may just seem like an obtuse use of blockchain technology. However, the need for it is profound. University of Wollongong academics Candice Visser and Quentin Hanich wrote in January on website The Conversation:
“The aim is to help stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and human rights abuses in the tuna industry. These have included reports of corruption, illegal trafficking and human slavery on tuna fishing boats.
It is hoped the use of blockchain technology will strengthen transparency and enable full traceability, thereby countering significant threats to licensing revenue and crew working conditions and safety, and broader impacts on the environment.”