Crypto Economy · April 29, 2022

Combating Slave Labor with the Blockchain

Slave Labor in the Fishing Industry

Modern-day slavery is still alive and well in many parts of the global economy. Slavery is especially a problem in the fishing industry.  Recently, the Associated Press went to Southeast Asia and found over 2,000 men, many from Burma, held against their will. After the report was published and authorities stepped in, the men were set free, but it has raised the bigger question of how to go about eliminating forced labor. Until the blockchain, there hasn’t been a good way to conduct a large scale audit of labor practices in a supply chain .

Enter the Blockchain

During the investigation, reporters discovered that major brands like Walmart, Safeway, and Fancy Feasts have sold compromised seafood from Southeast Asia. It is challenging for companies to trace their seafood supply chain because places like Walmart often deal with multiple distributers. Currently, food and labor practices are audited by a centralized bodies like the FDA or The National Human Trafficking Association. These organizations try their best, but at the end of the day are hamstrung by modest budgets and dated technology.

With the blockchain, all transactions are identified and sent to an open ledger where governments, companies, and consumers are able to track the origins of their seafood. Suppliers who don’t identify their fish can be actively avoided- for example Tesco stopped stocking John West brand of fish because Tesco was unable to verify if the fish were caught in equitable conditions.

Blockchain and The Future

Even though the blockchain is still in its early days, companies like Provenance have made great strides in authenticating supply chains. So far it seems that the blockchain is shaping up to be the disruptive technology we need to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery in the fishing industry.