A new initiative aimed at improving the traceability and consumer understanding of fish has been launched in the south east.

The South East Food Group Partnership has developed a tagging scheme, in which fish caught in the region are labelled with detailed information.

Labels contain species and provenance information together with a link to the South East Seafood website and a unique code to enter online. This gives the user access to the name and number of the boat that caught the fish, the names and biographies of the skipper and crew, and further details about the species and catch method.

The scheme, trialled over the past year and being rolled out over coming weeks, covers Dover sole, line-caught sea bass and lobsters. Other species will be added in the future.

The labels will initially be seen at fishmongers, on the fish counter at Harrods and at Billingsgate market, with plans to extend it to further retailers later.

"People really want to know where their fish is coming from," said Henriette Reinders, MD of SEFGP. "So many chefs and consumers are asking. When you look at fish markets, there is a lack of provenance information, so we get the feeling there's a lot of potential for this."

The launch followed a survey that found 55% of consumers wanted to buy more local or regional seafood, but they were frustrated by availability, consistency, quality of supply and cost.

"Sourcing is a problem both in terms of identifying the fishermen and/or finding a supply chain that makes the product available," said Reinders.