QR code
Restaurant patrons in Brazil can scan a QR code to learn about the source of their seafood as part of CI Brazil’s Pesca+Sustentável program. (© Conservation International/photo by Priscila Steffen)

Editor’s note: The global seafood chain can be as murky as the ocean’s depths — in fact, one in five pieces of seafood is falsely labeled. In Brazil, Conservation International (CI) is pioneering a smartphone-friendly tool that traces seafood from ocean to plate, giving consumers the power to make sustainable choices with a few finger swipes.

Human Nature sat down with Guilherme Dutra, marine program director for CI Brazil, to discuss the pioneering seafood traceability program, Pesca+Sustentável (in English, Fisheries+Sustainable). Winner of the 2014 Google Brazil Social Impact Challenge, this initiative brings innovative technology directly to fishing communities in Brazil to reshape the seafood chain from the water to the consumer’s plate.

Question: How does Pesca+Sustentável work?

Answer: Pesca+Sustentável is a traceability system based on QR codes. The QR code is printed on a piece of paper that accompanies a restaurant menu. Customers open the QR app on their smartphone and scan the code, which brings them to the program website to find out more about where their seafood came from. This way, the conscious consumer can easily choose healthy and sustainable seafood that comes from local fishing communities, benefiting the whole seafood chain.

  • WATCH THE VIDEO: Scroll down to see what “ocean to plate” transparency looks like.
Crab fisher
A fisher in Brazil catches crabs in the mud around mangrove roots. This is the first step in the seafood chain. (© Conservation International/photo by Priscila Steffen)

Q: What does this seafood chain look like?

A: At coastal community fisheries in Brazil, CI is pioneering sustainable catch of a type of crab called caranguejo-uçá, which are caught by hand in the mud…