Consumers may soon have blockchain technology to thank for its role tracking tuna in a new partnership between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), ConsenSys, and communications technology partner TraSeable, as well as tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji.
The project is part of an overarching effort to eradicate slave labor and put a stop to illegal fishing that can deplete the tuna population. SeaQuest Fiji is poised to implement a blockchain-based verification system that can record the voyage of tuna from seafaring vessel to grocer, beginning with tagging the catch with radio-frequency identification (RFID) e-tags. Additional negotiations between retailers and the WWF will see the implementation of a consumer-readable QR code affixed to tins of tuna that can provide details on the sustainability and ethical sourcing of the product.
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."
"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."
Encompassing the seafaring end of the supply chain partnership, Sea Quest Fiji prides itself on both ethical and sustainable practices. With supply lines between the US, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, implementing blockchain technology is no small feat. Tracking begins as soon as the fish leave the water. "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," said Sea Quest chief executive Brett "Blu" Haywood.
The WWF is also eyeing blockchain technology for other seafood industry use-cases and fundraising initiatives. For now, the WWF's pilot will provide valuable insight on how blockchain technology can be applied elsewhere.
"We see blockchain technology as being able to step up the transparency in the supply chain, which previously was difficult or quite expensive to do," said O'Gorman. "It's a very exciting revolution that's about to transform the industry and will deliver multiple sustainable development goals."