Version 2.0 of the MarinTrust Chain of Custody standard for responsible sourcing of fish meal and oil is due to be published this month [August], and will include a clause on the recording of key data elements that will form the basis of a blockchain for the industry.
If successful, the development of a marine ingredients industry blockchain will be a pioneering project.
“There are private blockchain projects in various agro-industries and many big companies in the food/feed industry are gearing up to make this happen – some more advanced than others. However, we are not aware of any food/feed industry that has made this happen on the scale we would like it to be,” Francisco Aldon, CEO of MarinTrust, told FeedNavigator.
Blockchain technology is a decentralized way of building and maintaining a database, providing a solution to some of the problems associated with centralized systems, such as fraud and falsification. Members of the blockchain add records or ‘blocks’ that can be accessed and verified by everyone in the chain. These records are linked together and once data is added it is very difficult to change.
MarinTrust says it has a particular interest in linking the fishmeal sector to the direct human consumption sector.
“Blockchain technology is the bridge that we are looking for to link activities that today remain in silos. It will benefit all consumers in the end,” said Aldon.
The MarinTrust Chain of Custody program goes beyond the fishmeal or fish oil factory to assess both sourcing and traceability of these products throughout the supply chain.
Currently, there is a large volume of data being recorded, but in many different ways and formats, with some information only recorded for compliance purposes and other information generated in response to specific client requests.
Aldon said the blockchain, being a secured framework operating under strict guidelines, will ensure these data are collected in a consistent way, taking into consideration international standards.
“This is a collective effort between all the links in the marine ingredient value chain where each will have a purpose in making traceability work, thereby increasing the value of the material,” said Aldon.
Valorization of by-products
According to MarinTrust, increasing quantities of fish by-products are now used in the seafood industry – they represent up to 70% of processed fish. They result from the processing of fish for human consumption and are usually composed of heads, viscera, skin, bones and scales. In the fishmeal and fish oil industry, by-products make up 30% of the end products.
Yet there is still room for improvement in terms of marine resource re-utilization; the 2020 State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report from the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that an estimated 35% of the global harvest is either lost or wasted every year in fisheries and aquaculture.
Under the blockchain system, fishermen, fish processors and waste collectors will become providers of data-driven insights that are valued by consumers.
The hope is that this will add value to by-products.
“Rather than being considered waste, these will be considered a valuable raw material to produce marine ingredients,” said Aldon.
How will it work?
Working with a blockchain provider, MarinTrust’s aim is to implement a system or network for the recording, usage and protection of data, spanning all parts of the supply chain.
The network will be “open and democratic”, through an accessible database that uses no intermediary, allowing downstream companies to access key data elements such as the area of fishing, names of species caught, processing location, sustainability credentials or certification and production method.
It will also ensure transparency, allowing access to every transaction, and will guarantee the irreversibility of records.
“This approach should allow MarinTrust to contribute to enhancing the connection and dialogue between fishmeal and fish oil industries and the industry delivering products for human consumption – two industries that are in the same space and use the same resources,” said Aldon.