Peer Perspective: Blockchain Is an Innovation Driver


… fish fraud.

Case Study: Something’s Fishy

In 2016, Oceana, an ocean conservation advocacy group, compiled a report drawing from 200 published studies on seafood fraud. Based on their findings, a whopping 20 percent of seafood is not labeled correctly. The problem extends to all corners of the globe and all levels of the supply chain, from the people catching the fish to those distributing and selling it.

The seafood-mislabeling infractions detailed in the report ranged from the relatively minor (a restaurant advertising wild salmon but serving a cheaper farmed salmon) to the downright disturbing: sushi chefs purposely mislabeling endangered whale meat as fatty tuna in order to smuggle it into the U.S.

The consequences of mislabeling pop up in global health, the economy and conservation efforts. According to the Oceana report, the best way to combat fraud is by increasing traceability. The report asserts that a more detailed and transparent record of information about the fish as it moves along the supply chain could help decrease instances of mislabeling. Blockchain could provide this record, and a number of companies are looking for ways to apply it to the seafood supply chain.

In April 2017, for example, Intel released a demonstration case study showing how Hyperledger Sawtooth, a platform for creating and managing blockchains, could facilitate seafood supply chain traceability. That study used sensors to track and record information about a fish’s location, temperature and other characteristics as it moved from boat to restaurant. In January 2018, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) announced its appropriately named Blockchain Supply Chain Traceability Project. Through that project, the WWF and its partners are cracking down on illegal tuna fishing by recording every step along the supply chain on a blockchain.

“Through blockchain technology, soon a simple scan of tuna packaging using a smartphone app will tell the story of a tuna fish — where and when the fish was caught, by which vessel and fishing method,” said WWF-New Zealand CEO Livia Esterhazy.. “Consumers will have certainty that they’re buying legally caught, sustainable tuna with no slave labor or oppressive conditions involved.”

Of course, getting everyone along the supply chain to agree to a new recording system might not be easy, and that’s why a blockchain-based seafood solution like Fishcoin could be useful. The idea behind that project is to reward people all along the chain for providing valuable data directly to those at the end of it. For example, a fisherman in a developing nation might send a restaurant or grocery store information on the seafood he just caught. This triggers a smart contract that transfers a certain number of Fishcoins into his cryptowallet. The fisherman can then exchange those Fishcoins for something of value, such as prepaid cellphone minutes.

Most of these projects are still in the development stages, but should they take off, they could have far-reaching implications for global health, the economy, and of course, your dinner plate. What could you do for your customers with blockchain?

Industry veteran and former XO cloud evangelist and strategist Jaime Zarate brings more than 20 years of telecommunications, systems integration, IT outsourcing and managed services experience to Richardson Communications and Consulting. Jaime brings a unique, broad understanding of aligning a client’s strategy with processes, applications, infrastructure and networks, as well as, extensive hands-on experience in the development and deployment of cloud solutions. Before joining Richardson Communications and Consulting, Jaime was a strategic planning and cloud-services consultant to companies such as AT&T, Fujitsu, Rockwell, Unisys and XO Communications. He also served in business development and global alliance management roles.

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