Blockchain technology can make fishing more sustainable

Could blockchain technology make fishing more sustainable? The US Coast Guard has declared illegal fishing a greater global threat than piracy. By stepping up patrols, the US shows it is taking the issue of illegal fishing seriously.

Unfortunately, illegal fishing remains a global problem, and it is at historic disastrous levels. Aquaculture produces over 200 million tonnes of seafood annually, making it one of the world’s leading food suppliers. The fishing industry has also implemented sustainable practices, such as automating the supply of fish feed in fisheries and using lead-free fishing gear.

However, the industry has also been criticized for illegal overfishing practices and human rights violations. Studies show that one-fifth of all wild-caught fish is caught illegally and 90% of the world’s fish supply has been overexploited. These actions, if left unchecked, can have devastating consequences for ocean ecosystems.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing has been a problem in the fishing industry for years. Unfortunately, illegal fishing is unlike any other form of crime. Although each nation has its rules to curb illegal fishing, the planet’s oceans are vast and represent about 70% of the earth’s surface. This makes it very difficult to track criminals.

Need for more sustainable fisheries

There is a need for more effective control within the aquaculture industry, which is where technology blockchain can help.

Blockchain is a digital system that records transactions and other data in multiple places at the same time. Unlike traditional databases that store data in files, a blockchain stores data in digital blocks. When completed, these blocks are closed and chained to another block, hence the name.

This type of storage makes it easier to manage and track when data is added to the chain. Furthermore, a blockchain network consists of multiple computers that maintain copies of transactions, which are updated simultaneously when new data becomes available.

Blockchain technology saw its first widespread use during the introduction of cryptocurrency, but it has a wide range of applications. It has become invaluable for logistics companies that use it to track goods moving through supply chains.

Various industries are now using blockchain technology to form “smart contracts“. These digital contracts use computers to activate services automatically when the terms of the contract are met.

Blockchain and the fishing industry

Blockchain technology could allow the aquaculture industry to control where and how fish are caught in a way that traditional paperwork never could. Fisheries around the world are already starting to adopt technology to reduce IUU fishing.

The fish are given a barcode that tracks how the fisherman caught them, their whereabouts, how long it took to get from one location to another, and how much time they spent at that specific location. The barcode tells the whole story of the fish, from the boat to the grocery store.

Strict enforcement like this makes it much easier to spot illegal fishermen, forcing them to comply with fishing regulations. Furthermore, blockchain technology is almost tamperproof due to the use of multiple computers to create a server.

Efficient labeling control for more sustainable fishing

Blockchain technology used in this way can also bring peace of mind to consumers and make fishing more sustainable. Using traditional tracking methods makes it almost impossible to know if a fish was obtained where it says on the label.

Studies have found that 190,000 tons of fish are mislabeled and sold annually, mixing farmed and wild fish. This can hurt a grocery brand because consumers don’t get the fish they paid for. Having a label that shows consumers the entire journey their fish went through when scanned assures consumers that they are getting their money’s worth.

The use of blockchain technology could provide the means to finally tackle the problem of illegal fishing as more companies incorporate it into their fishing process. Only time will tell how the fishing industry will make use of these exciting developments.

However, as the rate of illegal operations increases, it will be critical to focus on innovations like blockchain for more sustainable fishing. When the world’s food supply and livelihoods are at stake, everyone in the fisheries supply chain must use new methods to improve sustainability.


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