For years, news outlets have been reporting on the systemic use of slavery in commercial fishing in places such as New Zealand and Thailand. With much of the industry's byproduct ending up in the United States and Europe—according to a report in The Guardian, "The U.S., U.K., and E.U. are prime buyers of this seafood—with Americans buying half of all Thailand's seafood exports and the U.K. alone consuming nearly 7 percent of all Thailand's prawn exports."—there's a strong possibility that at some point, slave-caught fish has been served on a dinner plate near you. But thanks to blockchain, a technology best known as the basis for Bitcoin, soon there will be a new digital weapon to fight slave labor.
"We want to help support fish that is caught sustainably and verify these claims down the chain to help drive the market for slavery-free fish," Provenance founder Jessi Baker told the Guardian. Provenance is an organization dedicated to socially responsible consumerism—it recently began piloting a blockchain program with the Co-Op Food group in the United Kingdom. "This pilot shows that complex, global supply chains can be made transparent by using blockchain technology."
Currently, the only way to track the progress of seafood through the region's supply chain is with paper records and tagged animals. According to the Guardian, the world's biggest tuna exporter, the Thai Union, is all for utilizing blockchain technology. "Traceability—which allows us to prove that our fish is caught legally and sustainably and that safe labor conditions are met throughout the supply chain—is vital if we are to interest consumers in the source of their tuna," the union's director of sustainability Dr. Darian McBain told the paper.