CANADA - A Catch to Plate pilot project is helping the lobster industry track the quality of its product from catch to market, reduce costs and respond to consumer preferences.
During the spring 2015 season, lobster landed in lobster fishing areas 26A on the Northumberland Strait and 32 on the Eastern Shore was tracked at all links in the distribution chain and consumers were able to scan a tag on lobster they purchased to follow its progress.
The pilot project is a partnership between government, harvesters and buyers, and is being led by Perennia, a Crown corporation that works with the agrifood and seafood sectors to promote innovation.
Perennia worked with the lobster fishing areas involved to collect information on handling practices.
The data continues to be analyzed and will be used by industry to manage risks and enhance overall quality.
"This is a great partnership between government and the lobster industry in lobster fishing areas 26A and 32 that focuses on quality and strengthening the brand of Canadian lobster from Nova Scotia," said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Keith Colwell.
"This project has the potential to transform the approach to quality control in the lobster industry and lead to increased value for the product.
"The results of the pilot may be used in other parts of the province and the region to support quality improvements and help the industry respond to consumer trends."
Mr Colwell has asked Halifax Atlantic MLA Brendan Maguire to chair a committee of government and industry representatives to provide him with recommendations based on the analysis being prepared by Perennia. This could include a quality standards program, a traceability system for consumers and other promotion efforts to highlight the quality of lobster.
Industry participants in the project include:
-- Eastern Shore Fisherman's Protective Association
-- North Bay Fisherman's Co-op
-- Abriel Fisheries Ltd., Tangier, Halifax Regional Municipality
-- Allseas Fisheries Corp., Etobocke, Ontario
-- Bakers Point Fisheries Ltd., East Jeddore, Halifax Regional Municipality
-- By the Water Shellfish Inc., Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island
-- Emery Smith Fisheries Ltd., Shag Harbour, Municipality of Barrington
-- Lobster World Inc., Eastern Passage
-- Simply Fresh Seafoods Inc., Clark's Harbour, Municipality of Barrington
-- Sobeys in Atlantic Canada and Ontario
-- Twin Seafood Ltd., Shelburne
"We know a great deal about the quality of lobster, but this project will allow us to get direct feedback from consumers to ensure we continue to exceed their expectations," said Paul van de Wiel of the North Bay Fisherman's Co-op.
"This project also has the possibility of linking the consumer to the men and women dedicated to this fishery."
"We are very pleased to be part of this project and we expect the knowledge gained from the results of the data collected to help us determine the necessary measures required, either at the boat level or throughout the value chain, to improve the quality of our lobsters in the marketplace," said Peter Connors, president of the Eastern Shore Fishermen's Protective Association.
"At the end of the day we are working towards receiving a premium price for our premium lobsters."
Government has contributed $213,500 to date on the pilot for 2015-16 and the two associations involved have contributed $14,500 each.
TheFishSite News Desk