Some diners in St. John's will soon be able to trace their fish dish back to where it was caught with the use of a mobile website that tracks who caught the fish and where.
The site enables customers who scan a barcode accompanying their meal to learn more about who caught the fish they're about to eat.
ThisFish, a sustainability project launched a few years ago, has been gaining popularity with fishermen, distributors and grocers across North America, and has caught on in restaurants elsewhere in Canada.
Diners scan the barcode that accompanies their meal into the website to track who made the catch, as well as where and when it was caught.
Andrea Maunder, chef and co-owner at the Bacalao restaurant in St. John's, said the site allows people to learn more about the province's culture of fishing.
"More and more people are interested in knowing where their food comes from … and to give recognition back to the fishermen who fish the fish. It really harkens back to our culture here in Newfoundland," said Maunder.
"A lot of kids don't know that fish doesn't come out of a box of Highliner and meat doesn't come from a slab of meat from the supermarket, so we definitely do need to get back to where our food came from."
Connecting diners with harvesters
Joan Doucette, who started fishing in Bay St. George after losing her job at a mine office, said the halibut and lobster she harvests can now be traced to her online profile.
She said the tracking system will help get people engaged in the process required for catching the food they eat, creating a stronger connection between diners and harvesters.
"We really need to start advertising and get this traceability program on stream so that people can start consuming more, and as they start consuming more there's going to be more demand — that means better prices," said Doucette.
"If I actually wasn't a harvester, and I went to a restaurant and I had the opportunity to go and see where my food came from, I'd rush to go and see who caught it and what the story behind it is all about."
ThisFish now offers almost 50 traceable seafood species from Canada's east and west coasts, and local fishermen anticipate the website will continue to grow.