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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Seafood is off the Chain! How do we integrate Blockchain Technology for Seafood Traceability?


The seafood supply chain is largely opaque, which allows for overfishing, organized crime,

and even human rights abuses. Illegally caught fish enter the supply chain at various points, and

important data about the fish (e.g. species, provenance, catch method, etc...) can be lost or

fabricated. Although some third-party auditors offer to trace an actor’s supply chain, these services are expensive and the data are siloed away, leaving only the third-party’s guarantee. One option for seafood traceability lies in blockchain technology, which marries a network of computers to an immutable, add-only ledger of transactions. In a supply chain managed by digital ledger technology, the potential for transparency is far greater than in the status quo. However, because the global seafood supply chain is so fragmented, and adoption of blockchain technology requires stakeholder buy-in at all levels of the supply chain, there exists no reliable roadmap for implementation. This Capstone Research Project will use a start-up company – DockChain – as a proxy to examine how to incentivize actors in the seafood supply chain to adopt blockchain technology.

DockChain is a blockchain-enabled restaurant distributor and direct-to-consumer seafood subscription service. Dockchain aims to use blockchain in order to connect local seafood consumers with San Diegan fishermen through the use of a distributed application, and QR codes. This application will allow seafood consumers to scan a QR code to access a story showing all relevant key data elements and critical tracking events, such as the identity of the harvester, and where the seafood had been processed and filleted. The business will have three phases of development in which it will focus on particular markets for adoption. The primary fish that DockChain will purvey will be opah, because of its potential as to grow in popularity. Although opah will be the primary fish the company deals, DockChain will be eager to distribute other fish as well.

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