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The VICE Guide to Right Now

Blockchain Could Stop Illegal Tuna Fishing

Thanks to the ultra-transparent and secure technology, consumers will know exactly where the fish in their sandwich comes from.

Blockchain, the technology responsible for Dogecoin and Bananacoin, does have its uses beyond cryptocurrency. Here’s a weird but good example: preventing unsustainable tuna fishing practices.

A project launched by the World Wildlife Fund promises to use the ultra-transparency of blockchain to keep a secure and publicly available digital record of where that can of tuna comes from. “Blockchain technology means that soon a simple scan of tuna packaging using a smartphone app will reveal where and when the fish was caught, by which vessel and fishing method,” WWF explained in a media statement.


“Consumers will have certainty that they’re buying legally-caught, sustainable tuna with no slave labour or oppressive conditions involved.”

Fiji-based tuna fishing company Seaquest has been the first to trial the tech, with WWF and US-based tech innovators ConsenSys and TraSeable assisting employees to input data that will tell consumers about the journey of their tuna: from the moment a fish is caught until the moment it ends up in a sandwich. After being caught, fish will be tagged with reusable RFID tags, which allow them to be easily tracked. Once they’re packaged these are switched over to standard QR codes.

“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,” Seaquest CEO Brett Haywood explains.

Why is a transparent fish industry so important? According to the WWF, the tuna industry is particularly susceptible to illegal and environmentally unsound practices. Many of these problems stem from the difficulties involved with monitoring and regulating fish supply chains.

While tuna has theoretically been traceable in the past, online or physical records were easily modified and difficult to verify. That’s where blockchain comes in: it’s secure, verifiable, and unalterable.

It’s not just environmental organisations who are taking advantage of blockchain tech— companies like Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline have recently announced similar collaborations with ConsenSys to ensure greater transparency and efficiency when it comes to tracking the journey of their products.

The future! It's exciting.

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