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„Hi, my name is Dean and I've caught your diner!“

 

Thisfish is committed to helping you make more informed choices about the authenticity, quality and sustainability of the seafood you eat, while promoting the folks who proudly stand behind their catch. We want to make the seafood business more transparent and reward those who responsibly harvest and handle your catch. We believe there shouldn’t be anything fishy about eating seafood.

 

Report by Tasha Sutcliff, 15.01.2012

 

Thisfish: Seafood Traceability Initiative was created to foster trust and authenticity in the seafood value chain and enable consumers to make more informed choices about the seafood they purchase and eat. This system rewards fish harvesters, processors, restaurants and retailers who are committed to promoting quality, sustainability and storytelling in their seafood products.

 

The system, designed by Ecotrust Canada, is cost effective and financially self-sustaining in the long-term, it provides tangible benefits to small-scale producers, fishermen, businesses, and fishing communities and meets regulatory requirements for seafood traceability. The benefits of seafood traceability are shared fairly throughout the supply chain from fishermen to retailers and promotes collaboration and transparency in the supply chain through partnerships and the use of open-source software. But in the forefront the system satisfies consumer demand and curiosity for knowledge about their food.

 

Traceability from Ocean to plate

Ecotrust Canada’s seafood traceability system is the first of its kind in that it is designed to trace seafood from the ocean to the dinner plate, allowing consumers to connect directly to those in the value chain right down to the fish harvester, but Thisfish is not just a traceability and social marketing initiative. These tools are key service pillars however, they are only the means of fundamentally changing how we think of, communicate about, market and consume seafood.

 

The steps from fish harvester and fish processor to retailer and consumer

The Fish Harvester

Each fisher harvester is pre-assigned a series of sequential numerical codes. Upon unloading of catch, each individual fish or batch of fish is tagged with a numerical code. The harvester, or a harvester-approved third party, will upload those codes to their personal profile on the Thisfish website. Traceability information including where the fish was caught, the date it was unloaded, the species, the vessel it was caught on, and the fishery will also be included. This information can be correlated to landing slips or other official documentation. Now this data is linked to the code and will follow that fish or batch of fish throughout the supply chain. The number of fish harvesters involved in Thisfish has increased dramatically in the past year and a half; the number has tripled from 60 fish harvesters in February 2010 to 299harvesters as of October 2011.

 

The Fish Processor, Wholesaler, Distributer

Fish brokers, processors, wholesalers and distributors can choose to become part of the chain as well, and there has been growing interest from a number of new seafood businesses in the past twenty months. There are a multitude of benefits that seafood businesses can garner from joining the program, such as cost-effective advertising; however, the biggest push has come from consumers and retailers. The public is hungry for high quality, sustainable, traceable seafood.

 

Retail, Restaurant

Retailers and restaurants have become increasingly more involved in Thisfish over the past twenty months. Sobeys and Thrifty Foods have embraced the concept and have created a business plan around selling only Thisfish traceable seafood. This has manifested in a huge commercial demand for traceable product from those fishermen involved in the program.

More restaurants and chefs have gotten involved in the program as well. Vancouver now has eleven restaurants featuring Thisfish seafood, with Toronto following close behind with nine. Chef Rob Clarke of C Restaurant in Vancouver regularly uses Thisfish seafood and has starred in a number of Thisfish informational videos.

 

On the public side, a consumer can trace a code and find out information about the fish, the fisherman, the fishery, recipes, seafood shelf lives, and program details

Consumers

Consumers are the last stop in the supply chain. At the grocery store, consumers can receive the codes associated with product either directly from the clerk at the fish counter for fresh product, or on the packaging itself if they purchasing from the frozen food department. The consumer can either take that code home and look it up on our website or they can use their smart phone and access the information before they buy the product at the grocery store. This last option allows the consumer to make purchasing decisions based on up-to-date information about the fishery the product came from.

 

Website and Social Networking

If a fisherman, processor, retailer or a restaurant would like to be involved with Thisfish, the first step is to register with the program. At that point the user will create their profile on the website. This profile allows the user to upload video and photos, include links to different websites, and add user information and a public greeting. Thisfish has also branched into the social networking tool, Facebook. Fans of the program can “like” the page and receive updates about the program.

 

Mobile Application

The mobile application for Thisfish was launched in mid-October, 2011. Consumers are now able to trace seafood products at the grocery store before they buy or at the restaurant before they order a dish. The smart phone application will work on iPhones, Blackberries, Androids and any other smart phone that will support a web browser. We are currently researching quick response, or QR codes, and their applicability to Thisfish.

 

 

 

Ecotrust Canada

Tasha Sutcliffe

Program Director, Fisheries and Marine

Suite 260 - 425 Carrall Street

Vancouver BC, V6B 6E3

Canada

www.ecotrust.ca