DESTIN, FL — A new promotional video from FishTrax™ Marketplace, a web-based trackability tool that confirms harvesting vessel, port of origin, general catch origin, and other seafood safety questions, has put several key Gulf businesses in the limelight as responsible program partners.
The 4.5-minute video features Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s in Gulf Shores, AL, as a champion of trackable seafood for its restaurant guests, while Ariel Seafoods, a seafood wholesaler in Destin, FL captures the spotlight as LuLu’s’ harvester and seafood provider. Greg Abram’s Seafood and Tarpon Dock Seafood Market, in Panama City, FL, are also represented in the 4.5-minute video.
“I remind my crew constantly that two days from now, these fish are going to be on someone’s plate…dinner for someone,” says Kerry Hurst, Captain of the Alleluia, in one of the video’s opening scenes. “Let’s treat them as though we’re going to take them home to our family.”
The video shows Hurst managing red snapper and crew aboard the Alleluia, one of the largest commercial fishing vessels in the Gulf. The 58-foot vessel is a renovated and redesigned Gulfstream which averages four days on the water per fishing trip.
“There’s always been fishermen that went the extra step to take care of their fish better than the other guy,” says David Krebs, owner of Ariel Seafood, and the F/V Alleluia.
“I always wanted to see fishermen rewarded for their abilities to catch and take care of their product,” said Krebs, who sponsors 17 fishermen and vessels in the boutique program. Sysco Gulf Coast, Inc., based in Geneva, Alabama, adds 15 more vessels and a dozen fishermen to the program.
Krebs says the interface FishTrax Marketplace has with consumers is important to fishermen, and Hurst agrees: “When you’re putting your name on it, that makes a difference,” the Captain said.
Simply put, Fish Trax Marketplace is an electronic fishery information system that discloses unique information about individual fish. The platform helps industry, marketers, and fishery managers collect, analyze, and share information that is critical for the success of their fishery.
It was developed initially by a collaboration of US west coast fishermen, scientists, and other organizations for improving the management of fisheries in near-real time. Since then, the Fish Trax Marketplace system has evolved into an important tool for consumers who want to know more about the seafood they eat – including the origin, harvest area and harvester of their specific fish.
The promotional video takes viewers through the cycle of harvesting a fish, attaching it to the electronic FishTrax Marketplace system, and ultimately being served as a menu option at LuLu’s Homeport Marina.
“We felt it was important to show the steps of following seafood out of the water all the way to someone’s plate,” said Brian Ahlers, FishTrax Marketplace manager.
“Last year, about 1.2 million pounds of product was handled and managed with FishTrax Marketplace, so we figured plenty of folks would find interest in the video,” Ahlers said. “In fact, more than 4,000 people showed their interest by viewing and liking the video within days of us posting it on social media.”
Much of that fan appreciation seems to be tied to the production quality, which is notably high, considering its shoestring budget. Connor Gallagher Productions, based in Monterey, CA, included several production and pricing favors like only old friends do. (Ahlers and Connor Gallagher are old scuba buddies and taught Marine Science together.) The three-camera, multi-location shoot “used everything from an egg timer and two GoPros to a drone,” Ahlers said.
“We just wanted to show what does “boat to plate” really look like with a traceability system like FishTrax,” Ahlers said. “Why would someone be interested in the story behind their seafood?”
Drone-captured aerial footage includes skyway views of Pensacola Beach, LuLu’s at Homeport Marina, the F/V Alleluia fishing in Gulf Waters, and F/V Miss Haley II unloading seafood dockside at Tarpon Dock.
Chef Dylan Feenker, executive Chef for LuLu’s at Homeport Marina, says it’s an impressive platform.
“For [LuLu’s guests] to be able to scan that card, to be able to see who’s responsible for preparing the food, who caught the food, I think it enhances their experience greatly,” Feenker says in the video.
The technology behind FishTrax Marketplace has been developed by industry, Universities, and other organizations working together to develop transparent information system and sustainable fisheries. Organizations such as the California Salmon Council, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Oregon Albacore Traceability Project, the Oregon Salmon Commission, Oregon Trawl Commission, and others, including the Gulf’s own Gulf Wild™ are using technology to improve transparency and traceability as well.
The full-length video can be found here, along with a shorter version being used to tease the concept. Proceeds from FishTrax™ Marketplace go to supporting collaborative, sustainable fisheries research with fisheries and the seafood industry.