We, at NAI, have piloted many technologies in the past from blockchain to touchscreen. The most effective platforms do not add complexity. Simplicity is key.
There are new technologies on the horizon. One provides passive tracking of vessel path in exchange for indicative fish location. The indicative information also recognizes the size of fish so it can direct activity to healthy stocks. This technology is already in use in the large offshore fleet.
While we have experimented with hook-to-plate technology, it is complicated and expensive. There is no incremental value to consumers and NGOs at that level of traceability granularity. At NAI, we believe investments in supply chain transparency are better suited for informing (fisheries) management decisions. Validating that a fishery is well managed can be the focus of messaging to consumers and seafood buyers. The detail beyond that tends to get vetted only by conservation/NGO gatekeepers and is confusing to almost everyone else. This goes back to our belief that problems need to be solved for the people that have them. We need to create and advocate for solutions that address the reasons for over-fishing in the first place. Ignoring those motivations will not deliver a practical solution. Specifically, fishing communities themselves are impacted by endangered fish stock levels, while consumers are thousands of miles away, and global fish stock health starts with the people who catch the fish.
Collecting reliable and actionable traceability data is fundamental to successful fishery management. Most sustainability efforts to date have relied on fishers keeping logbooks. While the intention is good, such methods have proven to be unreliable. There is little incentive for fishers to keep accurate data. Locational data does not need to be exact and small scale fishers don’t travel that far. Large scale fisheries, by and large, are tracked via vessel monitoring systems that are mandatory for licensing.
For large boats, 30 gross tons and above, we are working with VMS and AIS tracking systems and helping boat owners to implement e-log catch documentation that reliably transfers data between the boat, processor, data collection systems. and other stakeholders. The e-log system is compatible with existing satellite vessel monitoring systems.