Jónas Rúnar Viðarsson
Head of Value Creation
Quality of coastal fishing catches 2011
At the end of the summer, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture requested from Matís, Matvælastofnun and the Directorate of Fisheries that an assessment be made of the quality of coastal fishing catches. Matvælastofnun had already, in collaboration with the Directorate of Fisheries, launched an effort that dealt with catch treatment in general for all day-trip boats and that work was used in the project. A steering group was formed for the project and it decided that the focus would mainly be on a few principles that affect product quality, ie. icing and cooling, worms in the flesh, size and classification, bleeding and gutting, sorting and finishing in pots, color of redness and procedures in fish markets. Measurements and other data collection took place in June, July and August. Data were collected as follows:
• The Directorate of Fisheries and MAST measured the temperature of the catch when landing around the country.
• The fish markets increased the temperature measurements in their catch and provided the results with the project.
• MAST employees investigated various issues related to the handling of catch among small boat fishermen.
• Matís' employee interviewed the parties that handle the catch of coastal fishing boats the most.
• Matís employees visited the fish market to check procedures.
The results of the survey show that inshore fish vary in quality. Coastal fishing boats fish during the hottest season when fish are in poor condition for natural reasons, they tend to stay close to land where the fish are small, there are more worms and the color of the red is darker (kelp); they usually land uncut catches and the size distribution is large. Access to ice is limited in some ports, gutting services are generally no longer available and the transport of ungutted catch between parts of the country at this time of year can be detrimental to the raw material if the catch treatment has not been satisfactory. Ensuring the quality of the catch is therefore a problem for the coastal fishing fleet. The most influential factor in the quality of inshore fishing is cooling. In general, it can be said that the coastal fishing fleet performs well in comparison with the traditional day-trip boats in terms of cooling, and it is not possible to distinguish a significant difference between these fishing groups. The results of the audit also indicate that the cooling of coastal catches has improved from the previous year. It should be noted, however, that cooling needs to be further improved to meet the requirements set out in regulations. Classification and gutting are also factors that affect the quality of coastal fishing catches. It is important that fish markets and their customers find acceptable ways to ensure that buyers are given the size of fish they consider to be buying, but the authorities will need to consider changes to regulations on gutting to ensure the maximum quality of inshore catches. With regard to other factors influencing quality, it is most natural for market laws to prevail, ie. that price and quality go hand in hand, but in order for that to happen, it is necessary to increase the visibility of quality factors in the fish markets and increase promotion. Efforts were made to educate, measure and monitor day-trippers in the summer of 2011 and it is important that the government ensures that this path is continued next year.