The $150 billion global seafood industry is rapidly expanding. Per capita seafood consumption has more than doubled worldwide in the past 50 years and today more than 1 in 10 people on the planet derive their livelihoods from fisheries and aquaculture (fish farming). This rapid growth has
fueled significant challenges both for the seafood industry and the overall sustainability of our oceans. Currently, 89% of global fish stocks are overfished or fully exploited, yet the problem isn’t simply consumption but also waste, as up to 50% of fish are discarded or wasted within supply chains. In addition, more than 700 kilograms of seafood are stolen every second through Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The problem, and ultimately the opportunity, comes down to an existing lack of transparencywith root causes that can be summarized by the fact that the seafood industry on the whole is currently:
1) information intensive,
2) filled with un-scalable gatekeepers,
3) highly fragmented and
4) characterized by extreme information asymmetries.1
1. Information Intensive: At first glance many would conclude that the seafood industry is anything but information intensive. This is due in large part to the way the industry has been managed. However, in order to truly determine the legal status, safety, and quality of seafood, and ultimately the responsibility of its harvest, buyers need to know important details such as product specifications (species, size, weight, etc), location of harvest, time/date of harvest, the
identity of the producers, and the way in which the seafood was handled. These data points don’t simply need to be captured, but transferred through each member of, what in many cases are highly fragmented, supply chains. At present only some of this required data is being captured in more linear supply chains, but in the decades to come, seafood buyers and governments will require more data in order to verify that the seafood we consume has been responsibly sourced.
2. Filled With Unscalable Gatekeepers: Part of the transparency problem throughout the seafood industry is due to the purposeful design of unscalable information gatekeepers in the form of “middlemen” that often add little to no value, but simply maintain their position by carefully guarding information and creating financial mechanisms that limit producers into having only a single option when the time comes to sell their harvest. Up to and until now, these information cartels have been tolerated because the industry is highly fragmented, producers on the whole had very little connection to other producers outside of their immediate area, and downstream players in the supply chain have not required key data elements (KDEs) for import and purchase. However, this is all changing as buyers and governments are requiring these KDEs in order to ensure legality via traceability back to the source, safety and quality (please refer to APPENDIX I for more details).
3. Highly Fragmented: Unlike many agricultural industries, seafood supply chains are highly fragmented with very little connection from the point of harvest to the point of consumption. This is because around 85% of the world’s seafood by volume is sourced from developing nations2, and much of that is harvested by independent smallholders, who sell their produce to independent intermediaries, who in turn consolidate batches of seafood to be sold to independent processors, and so on. This is a massive traceability challenge leading to thefact that, in many cases, global Hotel, Restaurant, and Catering (HORECA) brands are selling seafood to their customers whilst being completely unaware of the KDEs (who, what, when, where) from the point of harvest onward. In addition to the economic risks ranging from health concerns and the possibility of safety recalls, this data ignorance is a massive brand risk as many of these same global brands strongly advertise their sustainability commitments while much of the seafood they are selling cannot be proven to be Legal, Reported and Regulated (LRR) as it lacks traceability all the way back to the first link in the supply chain. The technology to overcome this fragmentationis available, but importantly, in most cases the incentive structure doesn’t yet exist to rewardeach player in the supply chain for capturing and passing along the required data.
4. Extreme Information Asymmetries: The combination of the above elements has led toextreme information asymmetries within seafood supply chains where ultimate buyers are unaware of, and disconnected with, seafood producers. As mentioned, this is in many cases by design from intermediaries that may operate like cartels releasing information only as needed, and maintaining the information asymmetries to protect their monopolies. In the past this situation was accepted as a feature and not a bug within the industry. However, in today’s interconnected world where more and more brands are being held responsible by governments and consumers to ensure products are LRR, and not tied to issues such as human slavery and high carbon output, this information asymmetry inevitably must change.
To address these, and many other problems, governments such as the European Union and the United States are demanding traceability back to the source. On January 1st, 2018, fifteen major seafood species and species groups became subject to the US Seafood Import Monitoring Program prior to import3.However, global seafood supply chains do not yet have an accessible, affordable, and trusted mechanism that meets the needs of the various stakeholders in the industry, and that includes appropriate incentives for taking the extra effort to capture and transfer data along the supply chain.
Seafood is one of the largest industries on the planet.
12% of global livelihoods
That is correct... 1 out of every 10 people on the planet derive their income from seafood and aquaculture.
90% growth in consumption
People are eating more seafood than ever. In the past 50 years global per capita consumption has nearly doubled.
$150 billion in annual export value
Export value doesn’t include retail, or domestic production so full estimates of the industry size are upwards of $500 billion USD.
But this industry is often
89% of fish stocks are at capacity
At present, 89% of global wild fish stocks are overfished or being fully exploited.
50%+ of seafood is thrown away
As much as 60% of the seafood we take from the ocean is discarded, lost or wasted in supply chains.
700KG of seafood are stolen every second
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for more than 700KG stolen each and every second.
People want to know the story behind their seafood.
90% of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported
Of this seafood, less than 1% is actually inspected by the government specifically for fraud.
20% of consumer seafood is mislabeled
Depending on the species and supply chain mislabeling can be as high as 86%.
Governments are cracking down
Beginning January 1, 2018 the U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program will block 15 species groups from import into the U.S. without traceability back to the boat.
Blockchain based traceability for the seafood industry
To address the fragmentation of most seafood supply chains Fishcoin has been designed as a peer-to-peer network that allows independent industry stakeholders to harness the power of blockchain using a shared protocol so that data can be trusted, transparent, and secure.
An ERC20 compatible token that incentivizes data sharing
The flow of tokens moves from buyers to sellers in supply chains, thus rewarding those who make the extra effort to capture and communicate data. This shifts the economic burden to downstream actors such as hotels, restaurants and retailers who benefit most from traceability.
An ecosystem approach to industry transformation
Unlike many blockchain initiatives, Fishcoin is not based on a central company or entity. Instead it is designed to be a decentralized ecosystem that incentivizes data capture so that an ecosystem of companies and 3rd party developers can benefit by adding value to the network.