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WWF seeks to use blockchain for countering illegal fishing and slave labour in Pacific tuna industry

WWF seeks to use blockchain for countering illegal fishing and slave labour in Pacific tuna industry

Global environmental protection organisation, WWF is introducing
blockchain technolog
y to the Pacific Islands’ tuna industry to help tackle
illegal fishing and human rights abuses.

The Blockchain Supply Chain Traceability Project is using
digital technology in the fresh and frozen tuna sectors of the Western and
Central Pacific region to strengthen supply chain management by tracking fish
from vessel to the supermarket.

WWF-New Zealand, WWF-Australia, and WWF-Fiji have teamed up
with leading blockchain developer, ConsenSys;
Fijian Tech startup, TraSeable, and tuna
fishing and processing company, Sea Quest Fiji Ltd. to deliver the project in
Fiji. The project will test the use of Viant, which
was built as an asset- and domain-agnostic platform, in the Pacific tuna
industry.

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.

By leveraging blockchain technology, which provides a digital,
tamper-proof record of information accessible to everyone, consumers can have certainty
that they’re buying legally-caught, sustainable tuna with no slave labour or
oppressive conditions involved. A simple scan of tuna packaging using a
smartphone app will provide information on when and where the fish was caught,
by which vessel and fishing method.

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

 WWF-New Zealand CEO, Livia Esterhazy, said, “We are so excited that WWF-New
Zealand is a Blockchain project partner. This innovative project has the
potential to really improve people’s lives and protect the environment though
smart, sustainable fisheries.” 

 “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.”

“This is about helping people understand exactly where their food comes from –
telling the story about the fish, the fisherman, the families, the crew – the
path from ocean to plate,” Ms. Esterhazy added.

“We are thrilled to be working with WWF and Sea Quest Fiji on this project, as
ConsenSys has a keen interest in supporting applications of blockchain that
offer an opportunity for social impact and doing good in the world,” said Tyler
Mulvihill, Co-Founder and Global Business Development, Viant.io.

Brett “Blu” Haywood, the CEO of Sea Quest Fiji, commented,
“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.”

CEO of TraSeable, Ken Katafono, said, “I am very excited to be part of this
project, which I’m sure will lead the transformation of seafood supply chain
traceability in the Pacific and potentially around the world”.

Blockchain technology could potentially play a key
role in food supply chains
, helping ensure safety, providing origin
traceability and enabling customers to verify classifications, such as “organic”
or “halal”. This includes the fishing industry, which is threated by illegal,
unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Several tuna populations are subject to overfishing or are
classified as overfished. Last year, the Tuna
2020 Traceability Declaration
was launched at the United Nation’s first
global Ocean Conference. It is a non-legally binding declaration endorsed by
leaders of the world’s biggest retailers, tuna processors, marketers, traders
and/or harvesters, with the support of influential civil society organizations,
and governments. It is in line with Sustainable Development
Goal (SDG) 14.4
, which aims to end overfishing, IUU fishing.