Tech Developers Design Real-world Solutions for Southeast Asia’s Fisheries at the Seafood Traceability Hackathon

Developers from around the region joined forces to develop innovative technology solutions to real-world seafood traceability challenges. Photo: USAID Oceans/L. Bader

This past weekend, over October 26-27, 2019, developers from across the world traveled to Bali, Indonesia, but not for the reasons you might expect. Rather than spending the weekend on the beach, these technology experts gathered to participate in the Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability’s (GDST) third Seafood Trackathon—an event convening developers to create solutions to real-world challenges in the seafood industry.

Building on the success of GDST’s first Seafood Trackathon, held in Bangkok earlier this year in partnership with the USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans), the two organizations teamed up again, along with SecondMuse, to hold another Trackathon for the Asia-Pacific region. The event sought to create and improve interoperable technology solutions for seafood traceability and to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in Southeast Asia.

The Trackathon’s main event was a 24-hour “hackathon,” during which participants split into six teams to address eight real-world challenges relevant to full-chain traceability in the fisheries industry. The challenges were grouped into four categories—verifying key data elements, blockchain integration, interoperability, and identifier technology. USAID Oceans’ partners, including Masyarakat Dan Perikanan Indonesia, Altermyth , Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise, Indonesian Pole & Line and Handline Fisheries Association, Trinity Roots, and Marinelife Conservation and Community Development, attended the event as participants, challenge presenters, judges, and industry resources to ensure solutions developed accurately reflected the gaps and needs of the fisheries industry.

The “Good Fish” team celebrates their win. Photo: USAID Oceans/L. Bader

After a long night of hacking, and at least a few cups of coffee, each of the teams presented their solution to a panel of judges. Good Fish took home first prize for their highly-interoperable online marketplace that connects buyers interested in buying fish that would otherwise be thrown out to fishers selling these products. Two of the winning team members was from USAID Oceans’ partner, Altermyth.

VeChain, a global blockchain platform and one of the Trackathon’s primary sponsors, supported the event as a way to promote the use of blockchain technology to trace seafood products throughout the supply chain. In addition to a cash prize, each of the top three teams took home VeChain “tokens” that they can use to access VeChain’s tools and blockchain platform.

“VeChain has developed a set of tools to enable a traceable, transparent, and verified supply chain and has chosen the hackathon as a way to share these tools with the wider community through the innovative minds of the participants.” – Arnaud Bauer, Ecosystem Manager

USAID Oceans also sponsored four women from Manado, Indonesia to participate in the event as part of the program’s work to highlight the important role women play in the fisheries industry—from going out to sea, to developing tech solutions that improve fisheries management.

Three of the four the female participants from Manado whom USAID Oceans sponsored to attend the event placed in the top three teams. Photo: USAID Oceans/L. Bader

Overall, eight countries were represented at the Trackathon. They came from a diverse array of backgrounds ranging from software development to mangrove conservation. By the end of the two-day event, numerous practical, innovative solutions were presented, all addressing real-world problems related to full-chain traceability. Participants will have the opportunity to continue building their solutions for potential marketplace application, both through support provided by VeChain and contacts made at the event.

“The Bali Trackathon witnessed several innovative approaches to technical challenges in seafood traceability and illustrated the confluence of several digital technologies with GDST’s [industry traceability standards] framework …The solutions from all of the teams show how interoperable traceability combines with existing business systems and sustainability initiatives to achieve goals in ocean conservation.” – Thomas Burke, GDST

While this was the last Trackathon USAID Oceans will support before the program’s close in 2020, GDST and partners will continue working to advance a unified framework for interoperable seafood traceability practices in Southeast Asia well beyond the life of the program.

Type: Feature Article | Author: USAID Oceans | Date: 31 October, 2019 | Subject: Catch Documentation and Traceability, Regional Coordination | Country: Regional