Valuable knowledge building in the field of fishing and processing of pelagic fish

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In recent years, Matís, in collaboration with Síldarvinnslan, the University of Iceland and the UNESCO GRÓ School of Fisheries, has been working to build up knowledge in the field of fishing and processing pelagic fish.

Six doctoral projects related to improved utilization and development of processing processes and intended to promote increased value creation have received grants from AVS, the Technology Development Fund and the Herring Industry Research Fund (Sigurjónsstyrkur). The doctoral students have stayed longer and shorter in Neskaupstaður to work on their projects, study measurements and work on the development of new products. Supervisors of the doctoral projects are Professor Sigurjón Arason and chief engineer at Matís and Professor María Guðjónsdóttir, who has led research and development in the field of seafood processing for decades. Below is a brief summary of each project.

  • Paulina E. Wasik (Romotowska) worked on a project to maximize the quality of frozen mackerel products. The shelf life of frozen mackerel products was examined and emphasis was placed on finding the best way to freeze, store and transport the mackerel. As a follow-up to this project, work has been done on improving the processing process for filleting mackerel and product development for skinless, frozen mackerel fillets. Paulina completed her doctoral studies in 2016.
  • Hildur Inga Sveinsdóttir is working on a project called "Adding value from Atlantic mackerel fillet processing - shelf life, best processing and utilization of by-products." The mackerel caught here by land is particularly high in fat and therefore difficult to handle. Special attention is paid to whether it is possible to cut the mackerel without affecting the quality of the fillets, which can increase the shelf life of the products. The project also addresses the utilization of the red and dark muscles that are cut off during the skin incision and thus promotes the full utilization of mackerel. It is also investigated whether it is possible to use imaging technology to monitor and optimize the processing of skinless fillets. Hildur is expected to complete her doctoral project in the spring of 2020.
  • Carina Fernandes works on product development of Atlantic mackerel products caught off Iceland. The aim of the project is to build on the knowledge that has been created by processing mackerel products in Iceland to develop smoked, dried and canned high quality products. The project consists of detailed processing analyzes and market analyzes for the mentioned products to ensure that they are reflected in the relevant market. It is planned that Carina will complete the project in the spring of 2022.
  • Stefán Þór Eysteinsson has worked on research on redfish, which is one of the main foods of pelagic fish in the North Atlantic. The purpose of the research is multifaceted. First, the harmfulness of redfish in the processing of pelagic fish is examined and it is examined how best to handle the catch, control the processing and store the products when eating the fish. Secondly, the effect of red oats on the processing of flour and fish oil is investigated, and finally the properties of the oats are examined with regard to whether it can be utilized in any way. Stefán is expected to complete his doctoral project in the spring of 2020.
  • Guðrún S. Hilmarsdóttir has worked on research on how fishmeal and fish oil processes can be redesigned so that it will be possible to start production of fish proteins for human consumption, among other things. The most important stages of production are covered, profitability is assessed along with the possibilities for product development. The chemical and physical properties of the product are measured both by conventional measurement methods and by innovative spectral measurements. New processing equipment is tested and production from certain parts of the raw material is separated. Guðrún's doctoral project is expected to be completed in the autumn of 2020.
  • Nguyen Thi Hang is working on a project that deals with quality changes in proteins in fish processing. The main objective is to investigate the effects of the main processing methods on the protein quality, such as heating, drying, freezing and cold storage, fishmeal processing and the processing of other products for human consumption. The main emphasis is on the effect of the main processing methods on protein quality in fishmeal production and how the processing process can be changed to increase the quality. Nguyen Thi Hang is expected to complete his doctoral dissertation in the second half of 2021.

Important projects that can have a major impact in the future

Sigurjón says that the collaboration with Síldarvinnslan regarding the doctoral projects has been very successful. "This collaboration has been a leader in connecting the university environment and the industry. It is invaluable to work with a company that places great emphasis on promoting progress and at the same time increasing the value that can be gained from the raw material. Through the collaboration of researchers and the company, it has been possible to achieve an ever better grip on the processing of mackerel, but the mackerel caught in Iceland is a very difficult raw material. The mackerel can be edible and is in fast fat, the fat goes from 5-10% up to 25-30% fat content and the fish muscles are loose and delicate. Ways are also being sought to diversify the production of fishmeal, find new markets and increase its value. In the field of flour processing, significant research is being carried out in collaboration with Síldarvinnslan. The fact is that these are all exciting and important projects and their results can have a great impact in the future, "says Sigurjón.