Incentivizing fisher participation in ocean acidification research via the transfer of data on a traceable seafood blockchain.
Ocean acidification (OA), the rapid decrease in ocean pH resulting from CO2 emissions, has made our ocean 30% more acidic now than it was 200 years ago. But OA monitoring can help us understand its patterns and impacts, and implement mitigation strategies that stabilize supply chains and ecosystems. The Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network in a Box Kit (GOA-ONBK) enables communities to measure OA locally. By combining the GOA-ONBKs and the FishCoin network, a seafood data platform built on the public Ethereum blockchain, we can reward communities for helping scientists and resource managers monitor and thus respond to OA. With climate change threatening seafood supply chain collapse, FishCoinOA helps us fight back.
The literature has found OA to already be a problem, dissolving calcifying corals and marine snails, exacerbating oyster die-offs, and impeding fish’s detection of chemical cues. Furthermore, we expect OA to cost the world economy $1Trillion a year by the end of the century, and threaten human food security, the loss of which could lead to social disruption, migration, and refugee situations. Most coastal communities currently do not monitor their water chemistry despite the fact that high-resolution OA data would help researchers identify localized pockets of acidity, from which they could model potential impacts, and thus empower communities to anticipate problems, adapt their practices, and ultimately ensure robust and resilient supply chains.
Human-rights abuses; illegal, unreported, undocumented fishing; mislabeling; and environmental degradation are rampant in the seafood industry, partly due to its lack of transparency and traceability. But the Fishcoin network shifts this narrative, leveraging blockchain’s decentralized, immutable attributes to enable transparent seafood data exchange through a robust traceability platform. Furthermore, it incentivizes participation by converting Fishcoin tokens into airtime top-ups for prepaid mobile plans. Within artisanal fisheries, the Fishcoin network will not transmit catch or effort data until demand for traceability in these supply chains grows, but it can collect OA data demanded by users like companies, governments, academics, and NGOs.
In FishcoinOA, fishers collect water samples, and in exchange for Fishcoin tokens, send data (stored on the blockchain) about the samples along with any in-demand catch and effort data, and the physical samples, to researchers. Then researchers use GOA-ONBKs to analyze the samples, submitting processed data to the blockchain. Data users could access this data by exchanging FishCoin tokens. Companies or governments could use OA data to inform coastal infrastructure development projects or predict shifts in fish species, abundance, and size. NGOs could use it for educational materials, policy campaign evidence, or impact statements for donors, trustees, and members. FishcoinOA makes academic research more accessible and inclusive by requiring a fraction of standard costs, little specialized knowledge, no labor-intensive transects, and working with -not isolated from- community-members. FishCoinOA transcends traditional sectoral, geographic, and economic barriers; agency silos; and trade secrecy. It encourages data collection and analysis, connecting researchers to their study site’s communities, and incentivizing investments in coastal resiliency and sustainable management.
Watch our elevator pitch:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Singapore
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
What makes our solution innovative:
Unlike currently-available seafood data platforms, the Fishcoin network (tFcn) is open and immutable. Likewise, by integrating all industry players it is the first open-access, incentivised, traceable seafood data platform. Furthermore, its built-in reward mechanism actually incentivizes participation. FishcoinOA’s combination of tFcn with Ocean Acidification research (OAr) is the first project directly incentivizing OAr and conservation. FishcoinOA’s use of simple, affordable technologies dramatically lowers OAr costs. And, by incorporating fishers, FishcoinOA transforms the research process from elitist and isolated; to accessible, inclusive, and connected to the communities from which its data is sourced, and the management decisions based off of it.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Without technology, FishcoinOA is impossible. First, technology is essential to conducting any Ocean Acidification research. Second, its blockchain technology makes FishcoinOA's data immutable and incentivizes data collection and distribution. Third, internet and transportation technologies help FishcoinOA overcome distance. Lastly, both lower-cost cellular communication, and water chemistry research innovations allow for FishcoinOA to transcend classic socio-economic divisions. FishcoinOA applies technology to make conservation research feasible, sustainable, and inclusive.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Gather and analyze ocean acidification (OA) data at a fraction of standard cost. (Current approaches average $30000, and require specialized operational knowledge. Ours costs $5000 or less per site.)
Enable Fishcoin network benefits for fishers whose supply chains do not yet demand traceability data.
Include local fishers in the research process, helping make academia less-isolated from its study subjects.
Provide openly-accessible OA data for use by academia, businesses, governments, and NGOs, while rewarding fisher efforts.
Establish a functional method for transferring data and physical items in exchange for Fishcoin tokens by forming relationships between local communities and FishcoinOA partners.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
As FishcoinOA includes more fishers and sites, we will be able to determine the incentives necessary for ocean acidification (OA) research participation. This ever-expanding data set will require more analysis, but the demand for data access will allow the Fishcoin token system to incentivize and sustain the system. FishcoinOA’s self-reinforcing accessibility and inclusivity will prioritize the wellbeing of local communities involved in and affected by it. FishcoinOA’s openly-accessible data could help generate local maps and models for sustainable coastal management. Businesses and governments could better adapt to OA, and NGOs could better help the public understand and implement ocean-friendly practices.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
FishcoinOA will begin working through existing supply chain connections. Numerous partners are already committed to the Fishcoin network, and other companies, cooperatives, NGOs, etc. are looking to join. Furthermore, researchers and universities are interested in processing and applying FishcoinOA’s data to their work. Facilitated by local, on-the-ground partners, mobile communication networks, and field-based researchers, FishcoinOA will use existing -and establish new- relationships. As an incentivized data collection and distribution ecosystem, FishcoinOA rewards its participants, giving them no reason to leave and every reason to stay. Others will want to join FishcoinOA so that they, too, can reap these benefits.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
FishcoinOA is not yet directly serving others. The Fishcoin network (tFcn) and its corresponding app are in beta testing. However, through tFcn’s partners, we have already sent top-up credits to mobile phones in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand. Thus, the method for rewarding data collection via the transfer of top-up credits has been tested successfully. Furthermore, through Eachmile Technologies, tFcn has been helping each other establish cooperative supply chain relationships, many of which are involved in FIshery Improvement Projects that will benefit their respective fishers and seafood consumers.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
In twelve months FishcoinOA aims to work directly with thirty near-shore, Indonesian fishers who are members of two local co-op organizations; one Australian and one Indonesian University; three supply-chain businesses; and one municipal government. By exchanging Fishcoin tokens for data, FishcoinOA will increase the benefits accruing to fishers and highlight the importance of their work. By facilitating Ocean Acidification research, FishcoinOA’s benefits will make impacts within and beyond the local community. In three years, FishcoinOA will continue its incentivized and inclusive OA research, adding an additional 120 fishers, one university, five supply chain businesses, and two governments.
How our solution team is organized:Hybrid of For Profit and Nonprofit
How many people work on our solution team:6
How many years we have been working on our solution:Less than 1 year
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Our team has experience working in trading and supply chains; rural development; mobile/cellular, blockchain, and Internet-of-Things technology; seafood sustainability; and environment/resource economics. Many are advisors for multilateral organizations/initiatives, too. Their connections to on-the-ground fishers and processors in South East Asia provide necessary social capital for a successful pilot of FishcoinOA. Plus, as team leader, my plan to focus my masters thesis on FishcoinOA will ensure that it receives adequate time, attention, and academic expertise. I relish the opportunity to leverage my passion and persistence towards soliciting support for FishcoinOA and the communities it will affect.
Our revenue model:
FishcoinOA pays for itself and more. Incentivized by Fishcoin tokens, its participants each fill an expertise niche expertise, thereby appropriately distributing FishcoinOA’s minimal operating costs. FishcoinOA’s traceable data; valued and demanded by companies, NGOs, governments, and academics; can be accessed via Fishcoin tokens. Plus, these entities can contribute ocean acidification, catch-per-unit-effort, or other data, too, generating further benefits for all involved. FishcoinOA will not accumulate its own profits, but rather, enable equitable profits and data access for its participants. Through commonly-accessible data, FishcoinOA not only connects within sectors, but across sectors, allowing novel revenue streams and partnerships to flourish.
Why we are applying to Solve:
FishcoinOA depends on collaboration; by joining the Solve community we can form cross-sector partnerships that augment the Fishcoin network, and help our participants achieve shared social and environmental goals. The Solve funding would help cover the initial Ocean Acidification (OA) testing equipment costs, but more importantly, the knowledgeable Solve community and their Brain Trust events could potentially help decrease our costs further by identifying better hardware or methods for its use. Furthermore, Solve’s visibility provides an invaluable platform to help spread the concept of incentivized conservation and inclusive research to influence business and governance dialogues.
The key barriers for our solution:
Solve can help FishcoinOA overcome start-up Ocean Acidification (OA) testing costs which, although dramatically cheaper than most, are still expensive. Second, Solve’s expertise in technology-based solutions for remote areas will help FishcoinOA improve training, implementation, and adoption rates. Ensuring fishers are comfortable with OA data collection technologies and methods is sensitive and complicated; FishcoinOA would benefit from others’ on-the-ground experience. Third, Solve’s business and academic connections would help FishcoinOA reach more data consumers. So as to provide them the most relevant and useful data, FishcoinOA needs to work with these consumers from the start.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers: