William Bowles (right) and his son Shawn of Burgeo are among the many fishermen profiled on a new website, www.thisfish.ca, that offers customers detailed information about the fish they purchase. — Photo courtesy of Valerie Bowles
Consumers who like to know more about where their food comes from can now get a wealth of information about seafood they purchase from Sobeys stores, right down to the where it was caught, who caught it and which fishing method was used.
They can even view photos of the fishermen and their boats.
Sobeys Inc. has launched an online “sustainable seafood traceability system” through a partnership with Ecotrust Canada’s “Thisfish” program.
William Bowles, a fisherman from Burgeo, became involved in the website (www.thisfish.ca) as a pilot project at the beginning of this year’s lobster season.
“Personally, I thought it was a great idea for the obvious reasons, of course, to give people out in the world a chance to see where their product is caught, how it is caught and under what conditions it’s being caught,” Bowles said.
A photo of Bowles and his son Shawn holding a large lobster is one of the many photos on the website.
When customers purchase a variety of fresh fish or frozen Sensations by Compliments brand seafood at Sobeys stores, they can now enter a code on a tag on the fish into a box on the website to trace its origin.
Customers can also input codes from Sensations by Compliments seafood on www.compliments.ca/madewithcare or scan the code using a smartphone.
Bowles, who fishes crab, lobster and groundfish, said he got involved in the project to promote his lobster. He’s been fishing since 1985 and began lobster fishing in 1993.
He said there are places where lobsters taste better than others, probably because of the different ocean environments where they’re caught.
“If people like the product that we’re bringing in, then it’s hoped that we’d be able to get a little better price for it because it would just create more demand.”
In a statement Wednesday, Sobeys said the traceability system will provide Canadians with unprecedented visibility into the quality and sustainability of the seafood they eat.
“Sobeys Inc. is proud to be the first Canadian grocery retailer to offer an innovative and comprehensive seafood traceability system that focuses on more sustainable sources and allows customers to verify the authenticity and quality of their seafood purchases,” said David Smith, vice-president of retail strategy and sustainability.
“It not only provides Canadians with a robust set of information about the source of their seafood, it directly connects them to the fishermen that catch their fish.”
The website also contains recipes and preparation tips and customers even have the option to send a note directly to a fisherman or ask a question.
“As fishermen, it’s great for my crew and me to realize that somebody around the world is buying our fish, and that they can look at who we are and where we come from,” said Vic Amos, a B.C. fisherman.
“Traceability goes back to high quality, and sustainability goes back to accountability, so it’s important for me to ensure that I fish sustainably and deliver a high-quality product, too.”
Smith said Sobeys is “committed to helping to ensure the long-term viability of seafood and will continue to look for opportunities to provide customers with the information they need to make informed purchase decisions and to further the cause of responsible seafood sourcing.”
More information about Sobeys’ sustainable seafood policy can be found online at www.sobeyscorporate.com/sustainability.
Besides Sobeys stores across the country, traceable seafood products are available as well at Thrifty Foods and IGA stores in Western Canada.
The traceable frozen Sensations by Compliments lineup at Sobeys includes sustainable seafood products certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, such as wild sockeye salmon fillets, wild Pacific halibut fillets, wild albacore tuna portions and wild black cod fillets.
The assortment of traceable fresh seafood varies by store, based on regional and seasonal availability.