Trace and Trust, which assists in this initiative, is a means of certifying fish and their handling. In New York City, both Marea and Colonie currently use their certification for summer flounder.
On the deck of his trawler, the Elizabeth Helen, Steve Arnold took out his Droid Incredible and photographed the best of that day’s catch of fluke. He e-mailed the photograph to a number of chefs and sent them a note saying what he had hauled in, what he would be fishing for in the coming days, and when he could deliver his catch that afternoon.
The chefs fired back requests for squid, fluke, striped bass and a dozen or so other species. In iced containers, the orders would be rushed to restaurants in Providence and towns nearby in Massachusetts in a refrigerated van that Mr. Arnold recently bought.
This boat-to-table initiative is part of Trace and Trust, a program that Mr. Arnold; Christopher Brown, the head of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; and Bob Westcott, another local fisherman, started this year to make fishing more lucrative and shopping more reliable. By cutting out the wholesaler, Trace and Trust lets fishermen get a bigger cut of what chefs and stores pay, and lets restaurants and retailers know they are buying the freshest fish possible. (Consumers can go to its Web site, traceandtrust.com, to find participating stores and chefs, and to trace a fish’s identification tag back to the boat or fisherman who caught it.)
Trace and Trust comes at a moment when the seafood industry is under attack because of misleading labeling as well as the freshness and sustainability of what it sells. Consumers and fishermen have reacted by setting up community-supported fisheries, in which consumers pay in advance for a weekly delivery of seafood. And fishermen have reached out to chefs before.
But Trace and Trust has used technology to create a more direct and responsive connection between consumers and fishermen than any other program in the country, said Peter Baker, director of Northeast Fisheries Program for the Pew Environment Group.
“These fishermen are cutting edge,” Mr. Baker said. “Working together, the Rhode Island group came up with an innovative and unique marketing idea that no one else is doing.”
Trace inquiry page