Fraser MacDonald, Owner and Captain at Vancouver, BC’s Goodfish Seafood, had been wanting to open a business like the one he runs today for a long time. However, he says it was “always too difficult to do the kind of fishing I do and have a land-based business.”
So… what kind of fishing does Fraser do?
That would be hand-catching. It’s an old-school yet future-focused approach that is key to what makes Goodfish a truly good seafood company. In fact, it’s the biggest reason why they are recognized by OceanWise and the Marine Stewardship Council for excellence in sustainability practices.
“Hand-catching means fishing with smaller boats, using catch methods that limit by-catch, or picking up species that you aren’t targeting,” explains Fraser. “There is a lot less interaction with the ocean floor so we really limit the chance for our adverse effects on the ecosystems down there. We can also maintain consistent high quality because our smaller volume catch is more selective.”
Fraser’s dreams for his own sustainable fishing company finally came true when he connected with Sam Gartside, Goodfish’s current Operations Manager (and second captain). Sam was a friend who had moved to Australia. He returned in 2019 ready to partner up with Fraser, taking care of their day-to-day land-based business.
They started out with one boat and struggled to deliver a consistent supply of fish. Eventually, they managed to increase their fleet to five and develop a robust system of logistics. Today, they fish in BC’s cold coastal waters, bringing in healthy catches of tuna, halibut, lingcod, prawns, crab, and octopus on a rotating basis.
Sam and Fraser both still fish about three to four months a year, while maintaining tidy operations on the harbour and with their network of customers. They freeze their catches at sea, extending the shelf-life of the fish and enabling them to take longer trips to more remote locations.
“We run a complex business. Many seafood companies are brokers, but we’ve given ourselves a challenge by being the ones who catch and sell the fish. It’s the kind of company we wanted to create and it’s what allows us to offer such direct traceability.”
With traceability, Goodfish customers are able to access information about where, who, and how their fish were caught. That means they can make more informed purchasing decisions, and shop according to their values. Using software called Vericatch, Goodfish keeps track of the fishing data that customers can then check out by using QR codes on the product labels.
“So far, we’ve managed to make this happen with our tuna, but hopefully we’ll expand to using QR codes on all of our labels soon.”
Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC) was a company Fraser had been aware of since he started his fishing career in 2006. The GLBC logo was often on the boxes of the export-oriented businesses he dealt with. Trusting the quality of the product, he reached out when Goodfish was in a position to need their own die-cut shippers.
“They were the first company I wanted to call. We’ve been really happy with the quality. We’re looking forward to pulling the trigger on our e-commerce boxes with GLBC.”
In general, the future is looking positive for Goodfish. Fraser and Sam are “really excited to be set up the way we wanted to be. We’ve been building our brand and logistics for years and now we can really apply ourselves to sales.”
So, seafood lovers, expect to enjoy Goodfish at local shops and restaurants. And if you’re invested in healthy stocks of fish for generations, definitely check out their e-commerce site (and enjoy our boxes when your orders come).