Taiwan’s tuna industry adopts blockchain CCTV in a bid to fix image
The Taiwan Tuna Association has partnered with National Chung Cheng University to test a video surveillance system on board its fishing boats, aimed at eradicating labor abuse.
The TTA said it was using a government grant to install the monitoring systems on its fishing vessels in distant waters, enabling onshore monitoring and the use of blockchain to ensure the validity of the data captured. This decision is part of a three-year experimental project entitled “Ensuring the Protection of Human Rights at Sea and Supporting Sustainable Fisheries Development Through Technology: Establishing Decent Work Policies Focused on no one in distant water fisheries ”. The project is funded in part by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan, which plans to set up a communication platform for stakeholders “using cutting edge technologies, such as big data and blockchain” , according to the TTA.
TTA members participating in the program include well-known tuna suppliers Chun-I Fishery, Jinn Chun Fishery and Hong Yuan Fishery.
TTA project leader Tony Lin told Seafoodsource that so far his team has installed CCTV on five fishing boats, all of which have since left Taiwanese ports, and four more will be installed soon.
“I expect to see the results of the experiment after the ships return to port in six months,” he said.
According to Lin, one of the main goals of the project is to use biometrics (mainly facial recognition) to record and monitor working hours, while CCTV monitors and “human pose estimation” and ” human behavior analysis and prediction ”are used to identify work abuse. CCTV on bridges and crossings will alert management when “high-risk behavior” such as violence is detected, and will monitor and predict abnormal conditions, Lin said. Blockchain technology will be used to set up a database to improve the transparency of the working environment at sea, theoretically allowing data to be trusted and analyzed by interested parties.
However, CCTV systems will not be connected in real time with monitors on land. Lin said.
“Due to the high cost of satellite communications, this experiment installed CCTV on the ship and uses AI technology to interpret working hours and rest records,” he said. “It is automatically converted to text format by a computer and sent back to Taiwan daily to temporarily resolve the current satellite transmission costs.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected working conditions aboard the Taiwanese fleet, delaying the arrival of fishing vessels to their home ports and timely crew rotations, according to Lin. Partly because of this, businesses are facing increased cost pressures as a result of the pandemic, Lin said.
“It’s sad that some crew members can’t come back after their contracts expire,” he said. “Fishing boats cannot enter ports, which means vessels cannot repair in time and that is a major problem. Most Taiwanese fishing boats choose to return to Taiwan for repairs because they are unable to find the nearest port, but this increases operating costs.
Taiwan has embarked on an effort to reform labor practices in its fishing fleet since the European Union issued it a yellow card in 2015 (later revoked in 2019) and the US Department of Labor placed Taiwan on its 2020 list of goods produced by child labor or Forced labor.
The Taiwanese fishing industry was further rocked in January 2021 when U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a restraining order against a Taiwanese tuna trawler, saying it received credible information the vessel was involved in the work. strength. In March 2021, the Taiwan Fisheries Agency released a series of measures it had taken the previous year to tackle forced labor. But Greenpeace continued to pressure the country to take further action against the forced labor it said it discovered in the country’s deep-sea fishing fleet, and its campaign was joined by other organizations not government. In August 2021, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration included Taiwan in its 2021 Report on Global IUU Fishing and Bycatch of Protected Marine Resources, which unequivocally indicated that Taiwan’s fishing fleet had engaged illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities between 2018 and 2020..
Greenpeace Taiwan Ocean Project Manager Moffy Chen told SeafoodSource that her organization was “happy to see efforts to improve the human rights of migrant fishermen” supported by TTA. But Chen said the continued existence of a “two-tier recruitment system” in Taiwan puts migrant fishing workers at risk of abuse aboard Taiwanese fishing vessels.
“We are focused on preaching,” Chen said. “We continued to hear all the talk and no action. We urge the government to strengthen the monitoring, control and surveillance mechanism to protect human rights at sea and IUU fishing.
The TTA said its goal is to “create a transparent, accountable, traceable and controllable system leading to a decent working environment for foreign crew members” with the result that “the reputation of the industry can be rebuilt and , finally, a transformation of tuna longline fishing vessels operating in the three oceans can be achieved gradually.
The process will be guided by international instruments such as the Work in Fishing Convention and the 1995 STCW-F Convention of the International Maritime Organization. The TTA said it is forming an advisory group on fair labor and sustainable fishing that will include participation from foreign crew organizations, labor unions and non-governmental organizations, in addition to government and industry representatives. industry. The group’s objective is to create “a process of discussion and negotiation to create a cooperative mode of operation of fair employment and appropriate workforce,” according to the TTA press release.
According to the TTA statement, the country’s fishing fleet remains of vital political interest to the government of Taiwan, which has been constrained by participation in international forums from China, which claims the island nation as its own.
“[It] gives Taiwan the political leverage necessary to expand its participation in the international community, and with the size of its fleets, Taiwan’s deep-sea fishing makes Taiwan a key player in international trade, ”TTA said.
Photo courtesy of Sahat / SeafoodSource