Thisfish mobile website. (Photo: Thisfish/FIS)
Vancouver Island trust invests in seafood traceability system
Monday, February 20, 2012, 06:30 (GMT + 9)
Fishing communities on Vancouver Island have used a CAD 50,000 (USD 49,951) grant provided by the Island Coastal Economic Trust to develop a seafood traceability system called Thisfish.
These communities are now leading the country in seafood traceability thanks in part to the grant funded by Vancouver-based nonprofit Ecotrust Canada, the West Coast Trollers Association, British Columbia (BC) Dogfish Hook and Line Industry Association and the Vancouver Island Seafood Buyers Association.
Launched by Ecotrust Canada and the commercial fishing industry, Thisfish is an online traceability system that lets consumers trace their seafood throughout the supply chain using computers, tablets and smartphones.
“This seafood traceability project is helping to bring a traditional resource industry into the Internet Age”, said Mayor Phil Kent, chair of the Island Coastal Economic Trust and Mayor of Duncan. “The Trust is pleased to be involved in this type of innovative marketing and branding initiative, which supports our vision of enhanced global competitiveness for our regional resource industries.”
In 2011, Thisfish allowed for the tracing of almost 5 million lb of seafood from Pacific and Atlantic fisheries. One third, or 1.6 million lb, was landed in Vancouver Island.
Fisheries with the highest levels of traceability took place on the Island: about 18 per cent of all troll-caught chinook salmon on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, along with 17 per cent of halibut, 10 per cent of Barkley Sound sockeye and 9 per cent of sablefish were traceable through Thisfish.
“Ecotrust Canada is especially proud of the close, collaborative work we did with fishermen”, says Brenda Kuecks, President of Ecotrust Canada. “Teams of computer engineers, web developers, project planners and fishermen worked together to build a high-tech, user-friendly solution for seafood traceability.”
Fishers identify their catch with a unique code which they upload along with catch information to Thisfish.info. Seafood companies can also upload details on the processing and handling of catch.
Consumers can then use the unique codes to trace the origins of their seafood and can even send electronic messages to fishers.
In 2011, 262 fishing vessels landed catch traceable through Thisfish, including 120 vessels in BC, and 11 different Pacific species of fish were traceable through the system.
The Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) was established in February 2006 providing a CAD 50 million (USD 49.96 million) endowment managed by an independent Board of Directors. The Board makes strategic investments in economic development priorities including forestry, transportation, tourism, mining, energy, economic development, agriculture and aquaculture and small business.
ICET has approved over CAD 46 million (USD 45.96 million) for more than over 80 projects on the Island and Sunshine Coast since implementing its grant programme in 2007. The total impact of these investments is estimated at over CAD 245 million (USD 244.76 million).
- Diners can now track their meals back to fishers
By Natalia Real