“Sorting out unsuitable fish allows better exploitation of the capacity at filleting facilities,” says senior scientist Karsten Heia. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen/Nofima

Project Year 2016

Looking into fish

Using a hyperspectral camera, scientists can tell what lies beneath the skin of a cod – without resorting to a knife.

Scientists have previously used this technology to look for nematodes and are now developing monitoring methods for further quality parameters – for example blood content and freshness – simply by taking a picture of the fish.

“This is of great interest to players who deliver and receive fresh fish. We are working to make it possible in the future to examine all fish as they are landed,” says scientist Karsten Heia.

216 channels

Normal colour photos are composed of three colour channels with red, green and blue light, but a specially designed camera allows pictures across 216 channels. The camera can also detect visible and infra-red light.

Combined, this opens up a spectrum of different analyses – as long as you know what you are looking for. The process is called imaging spectroscopy.

“Using all the information that our devices provide, and with the right algorithms, we can now see inside the fish in new ways,” says Heia.

In time he hopes the research will find commercial application.

Spectroscopy can also be used on red fish. Some producers of smoked salmon purchase up to 20% more salmon than they need to compensate for fish that during filleting proves to require trimming for blood and melanin spots. Avoiding this will save them substantial amounts of money.

Shelf life

Assessing how long a fish will last using spectroscopy is a real possibility in the future.

“It is fully possible, if the players are on board. During storage, proteins in the blood change. Blood oxidises, and the composition of information we get from the images can provide retailers with information on how long the fish can be expected to stay fresh, with an accuracy of +/- one day,” says Heia.

Nofima has recently launched two new priority areas. One, Spektek, is an internal Centre of Excellence that will deliver world-class research in spectroscopy and other analysis methods.

Norway Seafoods, Cermaq

The Regional Research Fund North and the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund (FHF).

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