Oceana promotes sustainable fishing with pilot project under the Fish Right, Eat Right initiative
Saturday, October 23rd, 2021
On Friday, October 22nd, Oceana Belize rolled out a pilot project under the ‘Fish Right, Eat Right’ initiative, connecting restaurants with responsible fisher-folks. The campaign involves an app that allows restaurants and even customers to know what type of fish they are consuming and where it was caught. The main purpose of the initiative is to curb illegal fishing and promote best practices in fisheries by providing marketing incentives throughout the supply chain via the promotion of responsible seafood consumption.
The program was first announced in January 2016, which started with the certification of restaurants with the Fish Right, Eat Right brand. On Friday, the project announced a further development, and Oceana’s Outreach and Project Director Jacinta Gomez and Communications Director, Alyssa Carnegie hosted the media at Elvi’s Kitchen in downtown San Pedro to explain this upgrade. The project counts with the partnership of the fishing industry, which helps to create accountability when it comes to finned fish. This new system will aid restaurants in their sourcing of seafood providing customers with quality and protecting the fish stock at sea.
How does the process work?
When fishermen go fishing a virtual observer camera is installed on the vessel. It is geo-restricted to capture the fishing activity. After the trip, the user/fisherman uploads the footage to a server where the video can be reviewed from anywhere via the Fresca Pesca app. According to Gomez, restaurateurs can download this app, select Belize, register their businesses, and view through that platform what fish products are available for purchase. The fishermen also input the info of their catch of the day and where they caught it in an eReporting app. When the fish is taken to the participating restaurant, the container/icebox will bear a label with a QR code. In the restaurant, this will be scanned and it will provide information about the fisherman, the type of fish, and where it was caught.
This QR code with the fish information can also be seen on the tables at Elvi’s Kitchen. Customers can scan the QR code to find where their seafood is coming from. The same can be done at other participating restaurants on the island like Blue Water Grill and Wild Mango’s.
Carnegie said that the Fish Right, Eat Right program will help keep track of how much fish is used and who in the fishing industry is involved. She added it is important for Belizeans to know what is happening in the fishing industry and to deter unscrupulous fishers, who try to fish protected species.
Head Chef at Elvi’s Jennie Staines shared that before this initiative she would travel to the mainland, mainly Belize City, to source fish products. With this new campaign, she no longer has to make such trips as fishermen in San Pedro have joined the cause to promote responsible and sustainable fishing. Another participant of Fish Right, Eat Right Chef Amy Knox of Wild Mango’s Restaurant said that this program will give an idea of how much fish is consumed. “We have to do it sustainably or we will have an empty ocean,” she said. Knox said that this new application is a step further and teaches people about the importance of the fishing stock available and when some of these marine species are in season.
As the project develops, the idea is to make it available to everyone in the country. At this time, they are beginning in San Pedro, where the consumption of seafood is in high demand in the tourism sector. Oceana is excited to launch this technology which is the first one piloted in Central America and is achieving traceability not seen before in the country. Oceana thanks the fisher-folks and restaurants supporting this program and look forward to more launches in other parts of the country in the near future. Some of the partners supporting this include the Belize Tourism Board, Belize Tourism Industry Association, Belize Fisheries Department, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the Environmental Defense Fund.
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