A fish can now be caught, its fishing method logged, and be tracked all throughout the supply chain – all thanks to Blockchain.

Provenance, a UK startup has brought the tech to the shores of Indonesia, trialing it in coastal communities where tuna fisheries are the main source of employment. The centralised system permanently logs changes in real time on a public domain, looking to prevent bribery in the fishing industry. The team worked with local fishermen to log fishing data on a Blockchain platform,

It also partnered with local NGOs to verify the social conditions fisherman were working under. 10% to 15% of commercial fishermen in the world are estimated to work in slavery. Prominently, in Southeast Asia, victims in Thailand are duped and trafficked to work in fishing boats under torturous conditions, as seafood is in high demand and a lucrative business.

provenance fishermen

“When you sell the physical fish, you transfer the digital fish,” said Jessi Baker, founder of Provenance, according to online publication Co.Exist. “What that allows is to prevent the double-spending of those claims. Because otherwise, you could sell two fish that both make the claims of sustainability and social responsibility”, he added.

So far, there have been efforts among governments and non-profits to trace supply chain compliance – whether the food source was obtained under legal means – but no solution was reached until Blockchain came along.

Transparency in food origins can help consumers choose fish caught under legal means, and shift demand away from suppliers with the worst practices.

With larger fish, Provenance uses physical tags and DNA trackers – but “it doesn’t technically matter if the fish get swapped”, Baker said, “the key thing is that their claims don’t get duplicated”.

Step-by-step snapshot from Provenance