The fishing industry has always been an industry that has been labeled as corrupt, an industry that follows unsustainable practices and is involved in human rights violations. Overfishing has been cited as a major culprit by UN for depleting marine resources, which is going to impact us in the long run. As a fact check, the illegal fishing industry is worth tens of billions of dollars a year. Which industry comes to your mind when you think of slavery or forced labour – May be diamond mining in Africa or forced labour employed in agricultural fields in developing countries. We can bet fishing might not have come even close when you thought of forced labour.
But in reality, it is one of the biggest industries that employ forced labor and still practices slavery. Slaves are generally made to work for long hours, sometimes up-to 22 hour shifts, for years at the sea without proper wages and food. Further, this industry also suffers from the issue of illegal fishing, where fishes are caught outside the legal boundaries of a specific country or a state. It has been estimated that around 20 to 30 percent of the fishes sold in the US are caught illegally. And all of this happens because of the huge demand for fish, with a whopping 2.6 billion people dependent on fish as an important part of their diet.
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Blockchain can be a great tool to transform this industry into a more sustainable, eco-friendly and humane industry. Let us understand its working through Tuna fish Tracking: Blockchain along with RFID tags and QR code can be used to collect and track the information about the journey that a Tuna fish has taken from the bait till it reaches the plate. As soon as a tuna is caught its tracking will start. Once the caught fish is boarded on the ship a reusable RFID tag will be attached to it. RFID reader devices will be installed on the vessel, at the port, and in the processing plant. These devices will automatically read information from this RFID tag and will upload the corresponding information on the blockchain.
After the fish has been processed, RFID tags will be removed and it will be replaced by cheaper QR codes which will be attached to the packaging of the fish. Each unique QR code will be linked to the information captured on the blockchain against that particular fish and its corresponding RFID tag. This QR code can then be used by the consumer to track the complete journey of the fish right from bait to his plate. Blockchain technology holds the potential to make fish catches more transparent and traceable, allowing consumers to refuse to buy illegally caught fish, or fish caught using slave labor.
Blockchain on its own won’t prevent illegal fishing, but it will make illegal actions discoverable and actionable. For monitoring and verifying that there is no human trafficking involved, the local trusted and registered NGOs can be partnered with. These NGOs can capture and upload the conditions of these fishermen on the blockchain.
Another very critical challenge faced by seafood industry is the fraudulent food labelling. According to a report published by a marine surveying organisation, one in every three seafood products sold in the US was incorrectly labelled. So the question is how can you be sure that the expensive Atlantic salmon sold under wild caught, you had for dinner last night was not just a cheap farm-grown salmon or perhaps not even salmon at all? In case of fish fraud, the cheaper fish are labelled as more expensive fish to attain more profits.
But through blockchain, a consumer can track the complete journey of the fish and can ensure that the fish or any other seafood he is buying, is actually the same that the label states. Additionally, since fish is a perishable food, it can become unfit for consumption if kept at temperature above the desired range as at such temperature it can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
The sensors attached to the fish such as temperature sensors can log these additional details such as temperature of the fish during its storage and transportation on the shared ledger. And through blockchain, the end consumer can scan the unique QR code on the fish packaging and can verify that the fish he is buying had been kept at the specified temperature and conditions throughout its journey. Apart from this, buyers can also check important details about the fish like its species, size, weight, location of harvest, time and date of harvest, the identity of the producers, and the way in which the seafood was handled.
But for this, these data points need to be captured and stored on the blockchain at every point in the supply chain. Thus it won’t be wrong to say that Blockchain can disrupt the fishing industry and make it more sustainable, transparent and eco friendly.
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