The Maritime Revolution: How Blockchain & AI Promise a Better Future
Humanity would cease to exist without the ocean; we are equidistantly paralleled to the life expectancy of our ocean. Without it, our land would cool to a toasty average of 122° Fahrenheit, the globe would produce 50% less oxygen, and over 3 billion people would be unable to meet their essential caloric intake.
Housing over 80% of the planets biodiversity, the ocean is responsible for seafood sectors growing almost twice the rate of GDP in many countries around the globe. The ocean is paramount to our survival, and yet we are leaving it worse off for each generation after us.
We can't cover every problem, nor every solution. We will, however, focus on at least two major issues that pose a considerable threat to the health of our ocean:
- Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) over-fishing
- Bycatch (incidental capture of non-targeted species)
The Overfishing and Bycatch Problem
Currently, about 40% of the world's consumer needs are met by high-seas commercial fishing operations. The problem is that the available fishing stock is rapidly shrinking and is constantly teetering on the edge of endangerment.
Without the recent progress made in sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and aquaponics, we would have most certainly wiped out entire fishing stocks around the globe by now. The infrastructure for oversight of global commercial fishing is highly difficult to manage because of the modularity of national jurisdiction on the open ocean.
This is the cause for over one-third of all fish stocks no longer being biologically sustainable, says the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Over-fishing also puts seafood-dependent coastal regions in significant economic uncertainty as larger countries deplete fishing stock.
The Blockchain Solution
Let's break down how a possible world could look where the most lawless place on earth — the high seas — is regulated in a way that fosters a globally inclusive fishing economy. We'll layout how Cardano and SingularityNET promise an overall safer alternative to the fragility of the oceans food chain.
Currently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) works with nations around the globe to provide transparency into commercial fishing activity and aims to deter and eliminate IUU.
To coordinate such an effort, they first require industrial-sized vessels (300 tons+) to install VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) devices, which allow satellites to track geo-specific activity on the open ocean. This provides transparency into the activity in and out of national jurisdictions. Next, these vessels are given tracking numbers to be identified throughout their lifecycle.
Cardano is uniquely positioned to solve at least two specific problems:
- IMO Infrastructure
- Supply Chain Tracking
By partnering with the IMO, Cardano can onboard the legal structure and regulatory oversight as a side-chain onto the Cardano blockchain to service the 174 countries currently members of the IMO.
Once onboarded, Cardano can provide dynamic and sovereign identity – using their Atala PRISM framework – to each and every vessel that tracks that vessels' lifecycle from manufacture to scrap.
Supply Chain Tracking
Cardano can provide supply chain tracking for fish stock caught by specific vessels in specific ways. As the world becomes more acutely aware of the harsh reality behind overfishing, Cardano can supply us with the means to know where our seafood came from specifically.
This would put a stressor on illegally caught fish or even invasive styles of fishing, secured and transparent on Cardano's blockchain. So how would this work?
You have to first prove the concept by showing it is cost effective, time-lenient, and above all else, easy. The current reality is not the case, but it is a start.
As it stands, it could work out something like this:
Using the same framework we've established above linking the IMO and the Cardano blockchain we can require certain vessels to attach a radio frequency identification tag (RFID) to a defining set of fish per catch.
This RFID will transmit data about the fish via oracles to the Cardano blockchain, associating itself to the unique vessel. Once the vessel ports, the RFID will be swapped with a QR code that contains the defining characteristics from the Cardano blockchain that was supplied by the RFID. This promotes immutable provenance via a distributed ledger and will allow end users and enterprise alike to differentiate their fish selection.
If the likes of multi-national retailers like Costco and Tesco can choose to only purchase fish from vessels that operate in certain jurisdictions, you can effectively incentivize commercial fishing operations to operate within their jurisdiction and legal capacity.
With Cardano's technology, VMS tracking will be unique and easily auditable, which means predicting commercial fishing habits could help deter IUU. This sounds good, but there are millions of vessels being tracked, pinging geographic locations 24/7.
So, how do we sufficiently analyze this over-flowing pertinent data? You guessed it: SingularityNET.
By creating an AI service that uses oracles to onboard the VMS data on-chain to analyze and model predictive behavior based off geological location, SingularityNET can optimize the way local authorities respond to illegal fishing activity much faster and much more efficiently.
The AI service can use the data to create synthetic models extrapolated out to compute the most accurate behavior of individual fishing vessels.
By constantly being fed real-time feeds via Cardano oracles, SingularityNET AI can predict possible location (jurisdiction), activity (type of fishing), type of fishing equipment, and even specific fishing stock. All this data will be used to characterize each specific vessel for its lifetime and will live on the blockchain.
The IMO requiring member nations to track industrial-sized vessels poses two additional problems:
- VMS equipment is constantly tampered with by illegal fishing vessels
- Industrial-sized vessels account for only a portion of fishing
How do we identify illegal fishing vessels that havent been formally identified or are purposefully tampering with tracking mechanisms? That's where Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer (VIIR) can come in.
VIIR is an instrument onboard satellites, most importantly the Suomi NPP, which is operated jointly by NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The VIIR identifies heat signatures from light. In the open seas, most if not all sea-faring vessels have to operate with light, which make them trackable.
SingularityNET has the unique capability to use artificial intelligence to analyze satellite imaging, like the one above, to identify fishing vessels. By taking data points like heat map dispersion, light depth, time of operation, direction of activity, and location of port, SingularityNET AI can distinguish from which country (and possibly even what type of activity) these vessels are taking part in and alert local authorities.
An even more exciting and potentially more potent solution is autonomous drone surveillance with SingularityNET AI-chips providing the neural network infrastructure, like Sophia the Robot.
Strategies like this are being tested as we speak, most notably, the initiative spearheaded by ATLAN Space, a Morocco-based company that is developing this type of aircraft. By providing the neural network for a device like this, the camera could identify in real-time the type of vessel, type of fishing stock, hours of operations, and possibly the place of origin.
A drone company will likely need to partner with local Coast Guard operations to effectively operate an initiative like this long term, but the possibilities are tantalizing.
As these possible solutions have the potential to combat IUU, they also concurrently deter the outcome of bycatch, which is the killing of non-targeted fishing stock during fishing operations. In total, bycatch accounts for 38 million tons of unintentionally captured sea creatures per year. Most die or are too injured to survive long term afterwards.
The ocean's battleground for commercial fishing is changing as technology continues to rapidly make progress. Blockchain and AI can help foster a healthier fishing environment, and are being used in pollution remedial efforts, aquaculture and and sustainable fishing ecosystems.
The Maritime Industrial Revolution is upon us.