Tuna tracker: Blockchain deployed to combat illegal fishing in the Pacific Islands

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Brett “Blu” Heywood, SeaQuest Fiji CEO, Dermot O'Gorman, WWF-Australia CEO, and Ken Katafono, TraSeable Solutions CEO,  next to a yellowfin tuna about to be tagged with QR code. © WWF-Australia / Shiri Ram
Brett “Blu” Heywood, SeaQuest Fiji CEO, Dermot O'Gorman, WWF-Australia CEO, and Ken Katafono, TraSeable Solutions CEO, next to a yellowfin tuna about to be tagged with QR code. © WWF-Australia / Shiri Ram

Related tags: New zealand

Blockchain technology is being introduced to strengthen supply chain management in the fresh and frozen tuna sectors of the Western and Central Pacific region, replacing ad hoc and paper-based records.

The technology is being used by environmental organisation WWF to help stamp out illegal fishing and human rights abuses.

WWF teams in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji have teamed up with global blockchain venture studio ConsenSys, information and communications technology (ICT) implementer TraSeable,​ and tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji Ltd. to deliver the project in Fiji.

WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy said: “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.

“Through blockchain technology, soon a simple scan of tuna packaging using a smartphone app will tell the story of a tuna fish ​— 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.”

Retail partners

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.

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

Brett “Blu” Haywood, the CEO of Sea Quest Fiji, said the blockchain technology could help boost the future prospects of the industry.

“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.

Recently we reported how blockchain was being used to track game meat​ in Japan and beat beef food fraud​ in Australia, while a seminar in Singapore heard how it could become the “key mediator”​ to make supply chains more transparent by enabling food firms to share data based on trust.

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