Phase 0: Provenance of Tuna using Distributed Ledgers

Updated Apr 03, 2019 (8 Older Versions)chevron-down
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Phase 0: Provenance of Tuna using Distributed Ledgers
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Motivation

Currently decentralized networks that employ distributed ledger technologies (DLT), such as blockchain, are implemented in a myriad of use cases from digital currencies (ie Bitcoin and Ethereum) to enterprise solutions. In this research thrust, we are interested in the application of DLT for the opaque supply chains of today, specifically those that are correlated with violating conservation and social responsibility efforts. The use of blockchain technology for opaque supply chains are only being recently explored by a series of startups in collaboration with conservation-oriented NGOs who have deployed initiatives or pilot studies investigating the provenance of commonly consumed species of tuna, such as Skipjack tuna. Over 31% of the world’s global fish stocks are overfished, therefore a variety of NGOs work with stakeholders to reform fisheries management globally, focusing on sustainable practices that conserve ecosystems, but also sustain livelihoods and ensure food security. Distributed ledgers hold the potential to make the tuna fishery supply chain more transparent and traceable, allowing consumers to refuse mislabeled produce or produce caught via IUU

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The term “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing - or IUU fishing - has emerged to describe a wide range of such irresponsible activity.

fishing methods that encompass modern slavery.

As of today, these pilot studies are funded either through a blend of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and venture capital funds or local governments that unite with NGOs (ie Conservation International, the World Wide Fund for Nature, etcetera). In order to generate the necessary momentum to incentivize the multitude of “human layers” in the tuna supply chain to append data with integrity to the distributed ledger, these NGOs work with large conglomerates to pressure the suppliers into holding their product sources accountable.

Personal Motivation

I’m a graduate student and Elements Fellow at the MIT Media Lab in the Viral Communications group. This research is the beginning of my journey to scope out a research topic for my thesis at the intersection of ocean conservation initiatives and blockchain. Currently, this project is a collaboration with Conservation International on their tuna program for environmental sustainability and social responsibility initiatives.

I am doing review of existing initiatives and pilots in order to evaluate the potential of distributed ledger technologies that are being implemented to address accountability and transparency issues in the fisheries supply chain sector. As of this writing, I am particularly interested on the Pacific Island tuna fisheries as a case study to further my research asks.

Active Project Summaries

  • Provenance: in partnership with the International Pole and Line Association (IPLA) pilot project, traces products from Indonesian tuna fisheries to consumers in the UK using blockchain. Their report outlines blockchain's ability to identify and trace the history, distribution, location and application of products and materials, "to ensure the reliability of claims in the areas of human rights, the environment, and labor”. Pilot study report. News


  • Atato: makes it possible to trace MSC tuna via Ethereum platform. Pacifical (using Atato as the blockchain company) is associated with the Parties to the Nauru Agreement with whom CI is working closely. News. Slides from SAFET. Demo


  • Fishcoin: Incentivizing data capture/sharing in seafood supply chains (not just tuna) with ERC20 tokens. Whitepaper. Has since rebranded.


  • OpenSC: Working with WWF on Austral Fisheries, part of the Maruha Nichiro seafood group, implement OpenSC technology in its Patagonian Toothfish operation (Chilean Sea Bass) and throughout its global supply chain across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. News. Demo


  • Viant: a Consensys company, undertook a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to prototype its asset-tracking and supply chain modeling platform to provide functional solutions to the issue of provenance in fishing in the South Pacific. They’ve partnered with Elkrem, an IoT-on-the-Ethereum blockchain company. News


  • SeaQuest (Fiji)/TraSeable: Seems to have dropped fishery thrust (404 web pg), previously partnered with WWF and ConsenSys. SeaQuest (Fiji) promo video. Using RFIDs for tracking + QR code for quick scanning. Slides from SAFET.

  • SeaBOS

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    The initiative was joined by ten of the largest seafood companies in the world, including the two largest companies by revenues (Maruha Nichiro Corporation and Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd), two of the world’s largest tuna companies (Thai Union Group PCL and Dongwon Industries), the two largest salmon farmers (Mowi ASA and Cermaq – (subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation), the two largest aquafeeds companies (Skretting – subsidiary of Nutreco, and Cargill Aqua Nutrition), as well as the Japanese tuna purse seine company Kyokuyo and the agro-industrial conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Foods.

    [Task Force I: Reducing IUU fishing and eliminating modern slavery]: A proof of concept pilot built on Hyperledger Fabric to track volume of sardines caught per harvest and address undocumented fishermen aboard vessels [potential indicator of modern slavery] was launched off the western coast of Mexico December 2018 and is expected to be completed May 2019. Nutreco, a fish feed company, leads this pilot using on-deck species-detecting cameras per harvest batch and facial image recognition software.

    Other implementations

    • this post and this code explaining how to build a tuna supply chain application using Hyperledger Fabric

    • Ambrosus is a general supply chain company built on Ethereum and combining sensor capture with smart contracts, code

    • UCLA blockchain feasibility report (in pdf). Conservation Int’l + UCLA students assessed blockchain in supply chains and its potential use in CI.

    • Request.Network was at the USAID workshop and is software that provides a network of nodes that receive transactions (such as the creation of a request or its acceptance), batch them, and save them on IPFS and Ethereum. They abstract IPFS, Ethereum and gas for the users. They also store all data.

Institutions + Governmental Agencies

  • USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans)

    • Assisting governments and industry in Southeast Asia to implement digital catch documentation and traceability (CDT) system

  • Thai Union

  • Conservation Int’l

  • WWF

    • Working with BCG Digital + OpenSC on Toothfish supply chain management

    • Mission around wild seafood

  • Global Food Traceability Center (IFT)

  • International Pole and Line Association (IPLA)

    • Worked with Provenance on Indo tuna pilot

  • Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA)

    • Working with Atato (via Pacifical)


Interviewees

  • Resonance

  • Blockchain Trust Accelerator

  • Provenance

  • Atato

  • OpenSC

  • Viant

  • SeaBOS Blockchain Pilot - Taskforce Lead

  • WWF

  • Streamr (UpStreamr hackathon project)

  • Request.Network

  • TraSeable



Relevant Conferences+Workshops

1 The term “illegal, unreported and unregulated” fishing - or IUU fishing - has emerged to describe a wide range of such irresponsible activity. In 2001, after more than two years of great effort, the Members of FAO developed an International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing (IPOA-IUU) to address this problem.

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