How emerging data technologies can increase trust and transparency in fisheries / by Francisco Blaha

I have discussed here before the potential limits of the new technologies coming into fisheries, and to some of my friends I may have sounded a bit cynic, yet I have said in the past these technologies prove it can be done, but without the enforcement of mandated trade associated tools like a Catch Documentation Schemes, transparency along value chain will not happen.

Data Technologies… don’t you have a welding machine?

Data Technologies… don’t you have a welding machine?

The fishing companies that have been using the present examples of these technologies are not the ones that are the problem… the ones that are not involved, nor want to be involved, nor have an economic drive to be transparent are the ones that we need to bring in… and I don’t see another way, other not just import conditions, but export ones too… no fish leaves the country if there is no proof of legality and that product being accounted for.

And there is a lot of info out there that pins massive hopes in these technologies if those are the only thing we need… Hence when reading in this Marine Science paper by Wolfgang Nikolaus Probst: … “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” … I thought… Nice! That makes sense to me.

Is an interesting paper, that describes Blockchain, Smart Contracts, Data Mining and Artificial Intelligence in an accessible way. But also explores the combinations in between some of these Technologies.

I do quote the abstract a comparative graph I found interesting and the conclusions, yet as always read the original accessible here

The ubiquitous spread of digital networks has created techniques which can organize, store, and analyse large data volumes in an automized and self-administered manner in real time. These technologies will have profound impacts on policy, administration, economy, trade, society, and science. This article sketches how three digital data technologies, namely the blockchain, data mining, and artificial intelligence could impact commercial fisheries including producers, wholesalers, retailers, consumers, management authorities, and scientist. Each of these three technologies is currently experiencing an enormous boost in technological development and real-world implementation and is predicted to increasingly affect many aspects of fisheries and seafood trade. As any economic sector acting on global scales, fishing and seafood production are often challenged with a lack of trust along various steps of the production process and supply chain. Consumers are often not well informed on the origin and production methods of their product, management authorities can only partly control fishing and trading activities and producers can be challenged by low market prices and competition with peers. The emerging data technologies can improve the trust among agents within the fisheries sector by increasing transparency and availability of information from net to plate.

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This article can only sketch some potential applications of block-chains, big-data analysis and AI in fisheries. Currently implemented examples and existing literature are too scarce to provide an in-depth review. Each technology will most likely evolve further, leading to unforeseen opportunities (and risks). Thus many of the described applications may never become realized, or their implementation may come with drawbacks which are not yet to be foreseen. But it is unlikely that the economics and management of fisheries will not be significantly affected by any of these technologies. Thus it is rather a question of when and how enhanced data technologies will find entrance into the world’s fisheries.

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.

In fact, digital data technologies may work best in fisheries, which voluntarily intend to demonstrate their compliance to laws, management rules, and consumer demands or which are looking for a self-controlling mechanism to foster trust amongst competitors.

Such systems may even evolve in areas, where governmental fifisheries is currently weakly developed or totally absent, because fishermen may want to organize themselves to reduce conflicts and improve trade opportunities.

Finally, in many situations, these technologies might allow governmental authorities to improve surveillance of industry compliance and consumers to place better informed decisions on which product they would like to purchase.