What are the environmental impacts of fish products?

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Traceability and the environmental impact of fish products are the backbone of the WhiteFish project, which Matís is working on together with parties in Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

The project aims to develop methods for assessing the environmental impact of fishery products, from fishing to the consumer. The environmental impact assessment is based on an LCA life cycle analysis, which means that the analysis covers the entire value chain. Factors such as the state of the fish stocks, the effects of fishing methods, energy consumption during processing and transport, waste in the process, destruction or recycling of packaging, etc. are therefore taken into account.

"Based on the experience gained regarding the eco-labeling of marine products, information such as this is most important for wholesalers and retailers of the product. Few consumers make an effort to immerse themselves in these aspects, but they trust that the person who sells them seafood is offering a product that has an acceptable environmental impact. Large retail chains have their own criteria in this regard, and with the WhiteFish project we are taking a step even further than is done with "traditional" eco-labels and calculating the environmental impact for the entire value chain of the products ", says Jónas Rúnar Viðarsson, Matís's specialist manager.

"In recent months, wild fish from the North Atlantic have faced increased competition in markets from cheap farmed fish from Asia and Africa, such as pangasius and tilapia. With the WhiteFish project, we hope to be able to show that our fish have less environmental impact than this competitive product, after all. "

The development work in the project is done with fresh fish fillets from Iceland and also the same process is examined with regard to fresh whole fish from Iceland which is transported in containers to Grimsby in the UK and processed there. The third research topic is sea-frozen fish from Norway and finally a fourth fish dish produced in Sweden.

"Based on this project, it can be said that a side project has been developed, supported by the Nordic InnovationCentre, where we are looking at what information the product market, ie. retailers and consumers, calls for. Both in terms of the content of the information and its form. These are questions such as whether consumers want information about the fishing method and the state of the stock with the product, how accurate the content descriptions need to be, whether it is better to develop a coding system so that consumers can go to a computer and trace a product's history and so on. Developments in the presentation of this information to consumers can create a unique position for Nordic fish products, and in this way this research is desirable, "says Jónas Rúnar.

For further information Jónas R. Viðarsson.