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July 2012

Tracking seafood from fish harvesters to consumers

From oceans to supermarkets, seafood products are tracked from the time they are caught, all the way to when they are being purchased at the supermarket. But now, as a consumer, you can even send a note directly to the fisherman that caught your fish!

Having developed key relationships and a trail platform with the seafood industry across the country, Ecotrust Canada was ready to launch Thisfish as a full, social-purpose venture. Simon Fraser University student George Chatzivasileiou undertook a Mitacs Accelerate internship to conduct industry research and contributing to key aspects of the business plan.

With his Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA), Chatzivasileiou feels that his Mitacs Accelerate internship with Ecotrust Canada was exactly what he needed to bridge the gap between the MBA and the job market. “Ecotrust Canada really valued my knowledge and my work at the organization, while providing me with further professional development for the next phase of my career,” he said. Ecotrust Canada is a registered charity that supports First Nations and rural communities in achieving the triple bottom line of economic, environmental, and social equity development.

The seafood traceability system Chatzivasileiou focused on through his internship is allowing customers to trace products back to the fisherman who caught it, view photos of the boat and crew and learn about the gear used and the fishing area where the catch took place. Thisfish is growing provincially and nationally through strategic relationships with Thrifty Foods and Sobeys.

After spending four months researching components such as the revenue model and best implementation strategy in his first Mitacs Accelerate internship, Chatzivasileiou was given the opportunity to research and analyze the best strategy for spin-off programs in the fish harvesting industry, and some of his recommendations are already being supported and implemented the ongoing commercialization of the program.

“Sustainability of nonprofit organizations like Ecotrust Canada can no longer depend on grant funding alone. Mitacs Accelerate concretely helped our organization with new business planning strategies for the commercialization of our knowledge,” said Tasha Sutcliffe, Program Director, Fisheries and Marines at Ecotrust Canada.

As of June 2012, George Chatzivasileiou has completed his second Mitacs Accelerate internship with Ecotrust Canada and has been actively looking for full-time employment. “I feel exceptionally ready to join the workforce and confident in my skills set, after working with Ecotrust Canada for the past eight months. I’m looking forward to sharing and building on this amazing experience.” 

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

Do you have a business challenge that could benefit from a research solution? If so, contact Mitacs today to discuss partnership opportunities: