Having gone through the many small hurdles for registering a business in Fiji we’re very excited to be operational now!
Our blog will be the best place to keep informed on what we’re doing and our insights on the industry and the technologies shaping it.
So, why a traceability startup?
Very simply – the seafood traceability space is ripe for disruption through technology innovation.
There are so many exciting technological advances now that when combined have the potential to make things previously impossible, now possible. Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are just a few technologies that are now being applied to multiple domains.
So, why not seafood traceability?
Within the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) there are many worthy regional and national initiatives being taken to address different fisheries management issues. Lead regional agencies include the likes of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community (SPC), the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), and the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA). And they are supported by national fisheries administrations.
While these agencies are doing an admirable job with the resources they have, together with their own domains of expertise including the application of ICT to fisheries, they can’t be expected to solve all the problems for everyone in our region.
It’s just not going to happen.
We strongly believe in working actively and collaboratively to find solutions to fisheries challenges in our region and we’re focusing on seafood traceability, for several reasons:
- Market demand – fish export markets are demanding non Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fish and proving traceability is essential. The EU market has been demanding this for some time and on January 1, 2018 the US Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) comes into effect.
- Regulators are struggling – the current national systems of verifying and validating fishing catch and determining traceability are too long, paper-intensive, and fraught with numerous other challenges that make them almost ineffective. This is a significant risk, especially for countries exporting to the EU if they cannot prove their traceability systems and processes work.
- Too many labour-intensive paper-based processes – despite a lot of good work recently in the region within in this space, there is still too much reliance on fisheries data recorded on paper and not enough effort to leverage electronic data and systems.
- Expectations of different stakeholders are not being met – it is not uncommon for regulators to think the fishing companies are always trying to sneak one by them and the fishing companies to think that regulators want to get access to all their information. This is where an independent technical solutions provider like us fits in to work with all parties.
- Interoperability of existing systems – there are numerous electronic systems collecting different aspects of fisheries data but many of these are not interoperable. Work on standards for different fisheries data is being progressed by regional fisheries agencies which should help with interoperability but there is no timeframe set to see any type of concrete standards in place. Here’s a good article from the Journal of Food Science on the Current Barriers to Large-scale Interoperability of Traceability Technology in the Seafood Sector.
- No collaborative electronic traceability solutions – there is no electronic traceability solution built from the ground up to cater specifically for seafood traceability in the Pacific that allows all actors along the seafood supply chain to participate in.
We believe we have a simple solution to these.
Who are we?
Our founders, Ken and Shauna, are a husband and wife team with over a decade of combined Pacific regional experience in ICT and fisheries. Both are Pacific Islanders, Ken from Fiji and Shauna from Samoa.
Until recently, Ken was the Manager IT at FFA in Honiara, Solomon Islands where he served 5.5 years and Shauna was a Compliance Officer with Samoa Fisheries. They both now reside in Suva, Fiji where the company is based.
As TraSeable Solutions grows as a company, we intend to employ more Pacific Islanders who are interested in technology and fisheries. Our first jobs have been advertised and we look forward to getting more people onboard in the near future.
What are we doing now?
We’re coming to the end of our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) build and will be going into trials in December 2017 with stakeholders who have been involved in the development of our solution. The trials will help refine our product further and we expect this to take up to 3 months before we release our product.
As a startup, we’ve been heavily involved in building relationships with other local companies with whom we can collaborate with.
Our local stakeholders include several fishing companies and fish processors and we have also engaged with the Ministry of Fisheries and the Ministry of Health Competent Authority (CA).
Our founder, Ken, is also consulting on an exciting local project on seafood traceability using blockchain technology with international partners. This is a first in the region and more on this will be made public soon.
We were also very lucky to be invited to the Hack4Climate hackathon in Bonn, Germany which brought together 100 blockchain developers and climate experts to develop innovative solutions to climate change challenges using blockchain technology. Ken and his “evoke” team were placed in the Top 5 solutions at the hackathon and “won” the chance to make their solution pitch at the Talanoa space at COP23 – Video of #Hack4Climate winners pitch
Look out for our next post on the application of blockchain technology to fisheries.