It’s not your imagination. The seafood industry is talking a lot more than usual about Bitcoin these days.
But don’t worry. There’s no effort afoot to launch a new form of seafood-themed cryptocurrency -- though “Fishscales” would have a nice ring to it.
Rather, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s implementation of its new Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) requirements is helping to drive a great deal of interest in blockchain, the digital technology that underlies Bitcoin, Sean O’Scannlain, the president and CEO of Fortune Fish & Gourmet, told Undercurrent Newsin a telephone interview this week.
Besides running one of the US’ largest seafood wholesalers, O’Scannlain is also chairman of the Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF), a 55-year-old group that has provided almost $4 million in grants to help create about 400 research papers, all publicly available. Roughly a week ago, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) announced that SIRF would be launching a pilot aimed at enabling the industry to better use blockchain, increasing transparency, optimizing supply chain processes and combating fraud.
NFI, a trade association that represents processors, wholesalers, importers and others, houses SIRF at its headquarters in McLean, Virginia.
SIRF has budgeted $120,000 to work with IBM’s Food Trust IBM’s blockchain-enabled Food Trust system and at least five companies, including a harvester, importer, processor, cold storage company and either a retailer or foodservice company.
O’Scannlain said the study is in the very early stages. Participants have yet to be chosen and it’s not yet clear if Fortune will itself be one of them, but he hopes for the project to be complete in six months and for the seafood industry to emerge with ideas on how the technology can help its businesses “generate revenue and reduce costs, from harvest to distribution to our customers”.