PNA partners with Gustav Gerig on blockchain traceability, expands tracking of FADs

Published on
November 29, 2018

Pacifical, the marketing arm for tuna caught in Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) waters, will partner with Swiss food company Gustav Gerig to make its “Raimond Freres” branded products fully traceable through Ethereum blockchain technology.

Gustav Gerig’s canned tuna and its Rosé range of products – sold both through retailers and directly to foodservice outlets in Europe – carries both the Pacifical logo and the blue tick logo of the Marine Stewardship Council, certifying it as sustainable.

Using the Ethereum public interface, customers can track their tuna – via a QR code scan – from the final point of sale through the production process and back to where, when, and how the fish was caught.

“By making this bold move, Gustav Gerig is the first European food importer to make a fish range fully traceable from the catch to the final product processing via the Ethereum blockchain,” Pacifical said in a press release. “In providing an optimal level of transparency, the company will enable all its clients access to data on exactly how the Pacifical MSC tuna was sustainably caught through the following information: which captain, vessel, catch timing, method and area, where and when it was processed.”

Pacifical first announced its move to adopt blockchain traceability technology at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in June 2018. Thailand-based blockchain company Atato created Pacificals’ tech platform, which went live in August 2018. Atato’s work on the Raimond Freres brand products will be audited by JMB International Thailand, according to Pacifical. 

“This new innovative blockchain integration covers over 220 large fishing vessels, the entire supply chain and chain of custody of about 35 million tuna fish caught annually in an area with a surface 40 percent bigger than Europe, providing an unprecedented level of transparency and traceability, to build the highest level of trust on the sustainability of the tuna catch,” Pacifical said.

In a separate announcement on 29 November, the PNA said it will be stepping up its tracking and management of fish-aggregating devices (FADs). 

Two years ago, the PNA initiated a tracking program for the estimated 50,000 to 80,000 FADs deployed in PNA waters annually. Earlier this year, the PNA began requiring FAD buoys to be registered with its Fisheries Information Management System. The new changes announced by the PNA include improved reporting of the ongoing trial of the FAD tracking system through the Fisheries Information Management System; integration of FAD log sheets with electronic reporting by fisheries observers; development of a PNA FAD buoy tracking and registration measure; and moving to address ecological issues associated with FADS, including FAD retrieval and liability for beaching of FADs.

“PNA has successfully managed the purse seine fishery through its vessel day scheme (VDS) and associated conservation and management rules,” PNA CEO Ludwig Kumoru said. "From a management point of view, until recently FADs were a mostly unknown quantity in the fishery. PNA’s aim is to ensure effective management of FADs because of their big impact on the fishery."

The increasing technological sophistication of FADs allows fishing companies to pursue a much more targeted fishing effort focused on the FADs attracting the largest population of tuna, which "has implications for tuna stocks and management of the fishery," Kumoru said. In particular, an easing of FAD-assisted fishing may spell relief for bigeye tuna populations, as they are often caught as bycatch by vessels targeting skipjack or yellowfin tuna. Kumoru said a seasonal FAD closure implemented by the PNA has been “surprisingly effective in reducing bigeye tuna catches.” 

FAD-related issues a topic of focus of the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A. from 10 to 14 December, Kumoru said, and the PNA is facing pushback from industry as it expands its FAD tracking and management program. However, Kumoru said despite the pressure, PNA will continue to develop its FAD management "for the benefit of the fishery in the region.”

“PNA is seeing a concerted effort by both industry and distant-water fishing nations to get the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and other global processes to take greater control of FAD regulation to reduce PNA control,” Kumoru said. “This is unacceptable to PNA as the resource rights holders in the fishery in our waters.”

Photo courtesy of Gustav Gerig

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