Use of blockchain technologies in the seafood industry can reduce fish loss and IUU fishing

It is hoped that applying the blockchain approach to the marine ingredient industry could create a level playing field across the whole sector, preventing IUU materials from entering into the value chain as well as increasing the market value of raw materials such as by-products. Version 2.0 of the MarinTrust Chain of Custody, to be published by mid – late August 2020, will include a specific clause focusing on the recording of key data elements that will kickstart the implementation of an innovative way to demonstrate full traceability back to the origin.

Marine resource re-utilisation

Global food loss and waste is the focus of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12, which aims at halving wastage by 2030. Yet, the 2020 SOFIA report from the FAO underlines that an estimated 35 percent of the global harvest is either lost or wasted every year in fisheries and aquaculture. Increasing quantities of fish by-products are now used in the seafood industry: they represent up to 70% of processed fish. They result from the processing of fish for human consumption and are usually composed of heads, viscera, skin, bones and scales. In the fishmeal and fish oil industry, byproducts make 30% of the end products, and there is room for improvement. By-products are also used in other sectors, such as pharmaceuticals (omega-3 oils), pet food, cosmetics, and many others.

The complexity of the marine ingredient value chain triggers increasing interest surrounding raw materials that are used and a need for transparency regarding their origin. This is the reason why responsible sourcing standards exist. Today, over 50% of all marine ingredients produced globally are MarinTrust certified.

Blockchain technologies: a bridge between the marine ingredient production and the food industry

Embarking upon a journey towards the implementation of responsible blockchain networks now seems highly relevant. The blockchain technology operates along three guiding principles:

  • It must be open and democratic, through an accessible database using no intermediary, allowing downstream companies to access Key Data Elements (KDEs) such as the area of fishing, names of caught species, processing location, sustainability credentials or certifications, production method, etc.
  • It must ensure transparency, allowing access to every transaction and its respective value
  • It guarantees irreversibility of records

This approach should allow MarinTrust to contribute to enhancing the connection and dialogue between the fishmeal / fish oil industry and the industry delivering products for human consumption - two industries that are in the same space and use the same resources. MarinTrust wants to facilitate the collection and processing of data, making the most of its position within the value chain to help all stakeholders demonstrate traceability. Viability of the model will increase as the availability of the data increases.