By Yolanda Redrup
The World Wildlife Fund in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand have joined forces to stamp out illegal fishing and slave labour in the tuna fishing industry using blockchain technology.
In partnership with US-based software company ConsenSys and information and communications technology implementer TraSeable, WWF has been able to help tuna fishing and processing company Sea Quest Fiji to track using blockchain the journey of the tuna from when it is caught, through processing and to the distributor.
WWF is now in discussions with tuna retailers to complete the "bait-to-plate" cycle with the hopes of creating a QR code for consumers on tuna tins that would tell them if the tuna had been sourced sustainably and ethically.
WWF Australia chief executive Dermot O'Gorman said the technology would likely be ready for commercial use in the tuna industry by the end of the year.
"The next phase is to work with the retail sector. We've worked on the front end and now we need to look at the rest of the supply chain, right up to the plate," he said.
"There's a number of technical and logistical challenges ... but we're in discussions with a few retailers ... and through the course of this year I think we'll get from bait to plate and be able to address the sustainability and human rights issues."
According to WWF, commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous professions in the world with a high rate of injury and sometimes death due to unsafe working conditions.
A report from January 2014 found members of a South Korean fishing vessel called Oyang 70 were often beaten or punished for little or no reason and would be made to stand on deck during extreme weather conditions with no food or water. Crew members also reported incidents of sexual harassment and rape. These allegations came to light when the ship sank, killing six men.
In the past six years many other incidents of workplace deaths have also been revealed in the fishing sector, including the discovery of the body of a Chinese crewman on a Taiwanese fishing boat that had been stabbed in the neck and kept in a freezer.
Sea Quest volunteered to trial the technology as the Fijian fishery has made a name for itself in the market based on its commitment to sustainability and ethical practices. It exports predominantly to the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
"From the moment the fish comes aboard the vessel the blockchain technology captures their journey in a digital manner and allows every person through the supply chain to see the story of that fish," Sea Quest chief executive Brett "Blu" Haywood said.
Mr O'Gorman said consumers wanted to shop ethically and the development of the blockchain technology would enable them to do so in the near future.
"We see blockchain technology as being able to step up the transparency in the supply chain, which previously was difficult or quite expensive to do," he said.
"It's a very exciting revolution that's about to transform the industry and will deliver multiple sustainable development goals."
WWF is also investigating the use of blockchain for other seafood industries and for fundraising initiatives. It also held two hackathons in 2017 to develop solutions to environmental sustainability issues using new technologies.
Mr O'Gorman said it was supporting a start-up that had emerged from its second hackathon to develop a blockchain for charities to show consumers how their donations were being spent.
Published on The Financial Review on January 7, 2018
The International Labour Organization has revised its landmark MNE Declaration.
Its principles are aimed at multinational and national enterprises, governments, and employers’ and workers’ organizations in the areas of employment, training, conditions of work and life, and industrial relations as well as general policies. These include the fundamental principles and rights at work but also guidance on many other facets of decent work.
Forty years after the adoption of the original MNE Declaration, multinational enterprises remain key drivers of globalization. Their operations can affect the working and living conditions of people worldwide and they continue to play a vital role in promoting economic and social progress.
The revision of the Declaration by the ILO Governing Body responds to new economic realities, including increased international investment and trade, and the growth of global supply chains. It also takes into account developments since the last update in 2006 within and outside the ILO, including new labour standards adopted by the International Labour Conference, the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2011, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development .
The revision has enriched the MNE Declaration by adding principles addressing specific decent work issues related to social security, forced labour, transition from the informal to the formal economy, wages, access to remedy and compensation of victims.
It also provides guidance on “due diligence” processes ‒ consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights ‒ in achieving decent work, , sustainable businesses, more inclusive growth and better sharing of the benefits of FDI, particularly relevant for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 8 .
The MNE Declaration recognizes the different roles and responsibilities of government, enterprises and social partners in achieving its aim of inclusive economic growth and decent work. Its principles are therefore addressed not only to enterprises but also to governments.
To encourage commitment to the principles of the MNE Declaration by all parties, the Governing Body of the ILO adopted a range of operational tools, including a regional follow-up mechanism, tripartite appointed national focal-points, company-union dialogue, and interpretation procedure of the principles of the MNE Declaration. ILO country-level assistance will also be provided to governments, employers and workers.
“The revised MNE Declaration reflects a robust consensus among governments, employers and workers firmly anchored in today’s realities. The MNE Declaration provides clear guidance on how enterprises can contribute through their operations worldwide to the realization of decent work,” ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, said. “Its recommendations rooted in international labour standards reflect good practices for all enterprises but also highlight the role of government in stimulating good corporate behaviour as well as the crucial role of social dialogue.”
The MNE Declaration is the only global instrument addressing corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices that was elaborated and adopted in a tripartite manner by governments, employers and workers from around the world.
This press release was published on the ILO's website on March 17, 2017.