FAO Explores Blockchain Applications in Seafood
Innovation by information and communication technologies is a crucial enabler in modifying food systems. It holds great potential to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Current developments, like mobile technologies, drones, smart networks, remote-sensing, distributed computing, as well as disruptive technologies, like blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), are all stated to be working as the premise for a ‘digital revolution’ whereby management of resources can potentially be highly optimized, intelligent and anticipatory.
In an attempt to cast light on the potential uses of blockchain, the FAO has issued a study document that established chain traceability as the substrate above which digital solutions required to operate. It offered an introduction to blockchain, and covered smart contracts, examined how they relate to the blockchain with an instance of their use in seafood value chains, and then examined significant development and operational considerations for blockchain applications.
The publication also analyzed the seafood supply chain with considerations on flag, processing, coastal, port, and market states. It recognized general control elements that create the basis for traceability monitoring and acquisition and summarised suitability for blockchain. It also examined considerations for the legality, species fraud, transparency, and food safety.
The report emphasized that the most usually utilized blockchains in seafood value chains are Ethereum and Hyperledger. Ethereum is a public blockchain, and Hyperledger Fabric is a private network. The authors showed out that there are merits and demerits to both public and private blockchains.
“In a public blockchain, authorities could facilitate verification of these claims by checking any paper documentation against what has been recorded on the blockchain. In a permissioned consortium blockchain, the authorities would have to be a participant in the consortium in order to be able to access the blockchain and, hence, use it to facilitate any verification,” the paper stated.
The strategic fit of blockchain technology in seafood value chains is further examined within the document, with review and analysis of seven initiatives/projects, like the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership. The publication then offered a key analysis as to whether blockchain for seafood traceability is the right tool and an investigation of operational chances with the usage of blockchain.
The study concluded that blockchain has the potential to enhance effectiveness and accountability in seafood value chains. It did not find limitations on the blockchain technology that cannot be subdued under the ‘right scenario.’ The authors concurred with the conclusion that “blockchain, data mining, and AI will not stop IUU fishing, will not prevent overfishing and discarding, but they may help to make global streams of fish and seafood products with the associated flow of money becoming more visible and transparent.”
The authors said that they see the recent media discourse that “seems to pin the solution to multifaceted seafood value chain problems (from IUU fishing, seafood safety and species fraud to labor issues) on one data architecture tool – blockchain” as unfair. They stated this risks hyperinflating expectation on what this technology can give, with potential operators then driving away because it does not deliver on the hype created around it.