Do you think you know your halibut from hake or your salmon from swordfish? Think again. Incidents related to fraudulent fish labeling are widespread – but blockchain technology could solve it.
Blockchain technology set to revolutionize supply chains
Modern supply chains are incredibly complex. It is unlikely that the food you ate today arrived on the plate directly from the farm or fishing. He probably traveled through various companies along the way – he certainly went to a packager and dealer at least, before it was picked up by you.
In a processed supply chain, the consumer must trust what the packaging of a product says. "Captured wild Alaska salmon" should not come from a South Korean fish farm, for example. How can you be sure it is not?
The answer, for now, is that you can not.
The fisheries sector is particularly negative for the labeling of such fraudulent foods. According to an article by Forbes, a report conducted between 2010 and 2012 by one of the most important marine survey organizations, Oceana, found that one in three fish products in the United States was incorrectly labeled. Moreover, some operations have even replaced what is supposedly the real fish with chemically created "fish" products.
However, there is an even deeper problem in the fisheries sector. Incidents of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) that do not take into account overfishing legislation are also widespread. A second report quoted from the Forbes article states that such "IUU" fisheries incur the industry over $ 10 billion annually. This figure was calculated a few years ago and, as such, could be much larger today.
Previous efforts to counter fraudulent and illegal practices have largely failed. An initiative, Sea to Table, has sought to address the problem. However, it emerged that the group was guilty of fraudulent seafood themselves – exactly what they had decided to fight.
However, blockchain technology could easily make such shady operations a thing of the past. Using supply chain management software and IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, it is possible to monitor every phase of a fish transit. If one of these sensors was attached to a product at the point where it was captured, its location, race and date of capture could be recorded on an immutable public blockchain.
These data would allow for control of fish products legitimacy at every stage of the supply chain, ensuring that no one was robbed along the way. This approach is very similar to the one piloted by the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) at the start of this summer for the production of beef.
In addition, such sensors could also record further details such as temperature. In this way the final consumer could be sure that their dinner had never been hot enough to allow the harmful bacterial flora to form.
I like VeChain and HyperLedger are already experimenting with supply chain management solutions. In fact, HyperLedger actually has a division dedicated to monitoring sustainable fisheries. This department is called a saw tooth.
Thanks to these projects, it will soon be possible to identify every point in the supply chain that a product had gone through. This would make it much harder for scam artists to pass off their Scottish rainbow trout caught by the line for something other than what it is.
Close-up image of Shutterstock.