The Future of Buying Seafood

The Lempert Report
June 18, 2015

A group of scientists and fishermen in New England are working on a new tool that will allow consumers to learn where a piece of fish came from.

If you ever find yourself standing in a supermarket wondering which fish to buy, and wishing you knew where it came from, you'll be pleased to hear that the future of seafood may be about to change. 
A group of scientists and fishermen in New England are working on a new tool that will allow consumers to learn where a piece of fish came from and get its backstory,  while standing in the supermarket aisle with their smartphone.  The tool was recently awarded a $175,000 federal government grant, in cooperation with Maine Coast and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland is developing the tool.  We spoke with Jen Levin, the institute's sustainable seafood program manager.
JEN LEVIN - Sustainable Seafood Program Manager
There are a lot of tools out there that exist to enable traceability. We’re partnering with two of them. One of them is called Trace Register out of Seattle Washington and another company that we’re working with is called  ThisFish and it’s a product that was developed out of Canada, and both of these products enable traceability from the boat through the supply chain  but one of the challenges there is that every single node along the supply chain would have to use this same tool in order to actually accomplish full traceability from the boat to plate. 

And for this project we’re partnering with those two companies to provide proof of concept between data inoperability, and what that means is that we’ll be working to connect those systems so if someone enters data into ThisFish for example, it can seamlessly transfer over to Trace Register that another company down the supply chain might be using. And vice versa. So if a company is using Trace Register and sells to someone using ThisFish then that data will automatically transfer over and maintain information about the source of the Seafood until the point of sale.
PHIL: Ultimately the tool will collect data about product through the different aspects  of the supply chain — including catch, landing, auction, processing and delivery — and allows the buyer to see all the way back to the fisherman. This new, innovative tool is the latest in a growing interesting for consumers in food traceability and tech. Something which is able to connect retailers, restaurants and customers with the origin and journey of their food. According to market research firm Visiongain, and noted in The San Diego union Tribute, the world market for food traceability technologies will reach a little over 11 billion dollars in 2015, an increase of more than a half-billion dollars from the previous year.