Trace your plate

Andrew Robinson
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Website links consumers to N.L. fish harvesters

Ever curious about when, where and how the seafood on your dinner plate was caught?

Sheraton Newfoundland Hotel second cook Lochlin Gosse pan-fries halibut for guests at the seafood traceability launch in the hotel’s courtyard Tuesday night.

Technology is now enabling people shopping for fish at a store or dining at a restaurant to find out just that.

On Tuesday, a group of invited guests learned how the ThisFish project works by tasting seafood dishes prepared by local chefs and made with fish harvested in Newfoundland and Labrador.

By entering a code at the website or scanning a code with a smartphone, people can learn about the individual who caught the fish in front of them and how it was harvested. People who visit the website can send a personal message to that harvester if they like.

According to Earle McCurdy of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union — a project partner — there are approximately 300 harvesters from Newfoundland and Labrador who have ThisFish profiles.

“What they’ve found is there’s a lot of contact coming back from the end user — the consumer — from all over the place,” the union’s president said Tuesday evening at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s. “We’ve had them from New Zealand, The Netherlands, Manitoba and various states in the United States.

“People are sending emails and making contact to say how much they enjoy the seafood,” McCurdy said.

Joan Doucette of St. George’s first heard about the project from the FFAW last year through union meetings.

“It sounded fantastic,” said Doucette, who set up her profile in the winter. She harvests halibut, lobster and crab.

“The fact that people will actually know who caught their fish, where it came from and what area of the province it was caught in and how it was handled, because quality these days, that’s a big issue,” she replied when asked what she liked about ThisFish. “People want to know what they’re eating.”

Nancy Brace, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, said restaurants are eager to sell fresh local seafood that a diner can trace back to the harvester who caught it.

“We want tourists and locals alike to connect to where their food is coming from. There’s a big disconnect in all sectors of food. People don’t realize that something dies to feed them. We need them to understand that these people have worked really hard to get that fish on the table.”

Tuesday’s menu featured traceable lobster and halibut caught by harvesters such as Brian Chant in La Poile (code N000047), Norman Strickland in Port aux Basques (N625098) and Don Baker from Harbour Breton (N034241).

McCurdy spoke optimistically about the chances of eventually tracing other species through ThisFish.

— Weblink:

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Allied Workers, Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland, Restaurant Association of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, New Zealand, Manitoba United States La Poile Port aux Basques

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Recent comments

  • Mary Finelli
    May 21, 2014 - 18:27

    It doesn't tell how the animals are killed, how long they suffered (science has shown that fish are sentient) or the type and number of non-targeted animals who were harmed and killed to catch the fish. It also doesn't tell the mercury load, the PCB and dioxin load, or how much cholesterol and saturated fat is contained in the fish's body. If you're interested in sustainable, healthful, humane seafood, opt for the many marvelous vegan seafood options that are available, convenient, affordable and delicious. Recipes and products, along with information about how sensitive, perceptive and admirable fish are can be found at