You've no doubt heard of "farm-to-table," the term used (and abused) to describe cuisine based on a close relationship between chefs and farmers. Now comes the boat-to-table phenomenon, which, as described by Joan Nathan in the New York Times, involves the sourcing of fish by chefs, restaurants, and retailers directly from fishermen, bypassing wholesalers in order to increase freshness:
This boat-to-table initiative is part of Trace and Trust, a program that Mr. Arnold; Christopher Brown, the head of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; and Bob Westcott, another local fisherman, started this year to make fishing more lucrative and shopping more reliable. By cutting out the wholesaler, Trace and Trust lets fishermen get a bigger cut of what chefs and stores pay, and lets restaurants and retailers know they are buying the freshest fish possible. (Consumers can go to its Web site, traceandtrust.com, to find participating stores and chefs, and to trace a fish’s identification tag back to the boat or fisherman who caught it.)
The term originates from the early 1990s, when it was used to describe new initiatives by the Food and Drug Adminsitration aimed at monitoring the seafood industry to prevent food poising.