Digital software to trace tuna fish being piloted in Fiji
The World Wildlife Fund is trying out new blockchain technology as one way to ensure people are buying legally caught fish.
It’s a type of digital ledger that allows for the tracking of information along a chain of transactions such as tracing tuna from when it is caught right up to when a consumer purchases it.
Fiji fishing company Sea Quest has been trialing the software from American based company ConsenSys with the help of Fijian tech startup TraSeable.
WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O’Gorman says the trial has been going well and they hope the technology will be ready for commercial use by the end of the year.
“Block chain is a very new piece of technology and so we’ve been working through various aspects of how to use the blockchain technology to ensure from when the fish is landed onto the boat right through to where it is sold and transported around the world and then through to the consumer’s plate. So this pilot has been fantastic to show us the potential of blockchain and we will continue to really work this year to see how it might be scaled up.”
TraSeable founder and managing director Ken Katafono is enthusiastic about this system where no one person owns all the data.
Mr Katafono says it is the first time such technology is being applied on a high commodity catch but admits there are challenges.
“The company we are working with and implementing it, they don’t have full transparency of their supply chain. So they know what happens to their products up to a certain point in time but beyond their distributors overseas, I mean they don’t really have access to what is happening. So the technology would allow those other parties to provide for key pieces of data for those products as they hit those markets but there would need to be incentives. “
He says regional differences also need to be considered.
“Pacific island countries they are at different areas of development and have access to different resources and infrastructure. I think implementing technology like this can be challenging for some of them who don’t have good internet connections. There’s a lot of good work being done by regional agencies in the Pacific in terms of digitising a lot of the fisheries data but there’s still a lot of reliance on paper data.”
The Forum Fisheries Agency’s former deputy director general, Wez Norris, agrees that the technology has great potential.
But he says while technology is changing the way the sector operates in a good way, using blockchain on a fisheries wide scale requires widespread cooperation.
“To do this on a fishery wide basis you basically need commitment and collaboration and the genuine buy in from companies and governments in literally dozens and dozens of countries. Because a fish caught in Solomon Islands might be transported to Fiji and it might be transported there and then marketed through a company in Singapore and then eventually end up in the US and so all of those players need to be part of this system. It is going to take quite some time to build that level of trust and commitment.”
A QR code is also being tested to help consumers decide which cans of tuna have been ethically and sustainably sourced.