The quality of cod supplied by the coastal fleet has improved in recent years. This is shown by the latest measurements from Nofima's catch damage records. The photo shows the scientists Sjurdur Joensen (left), Torbjørn Tobiassen og Leif Akse (now retired) checking the fish at the Båtsfjordbruket in Norway in 2014. Photo: Inge Wahl/Nofima

Improved quality of cod supplied by the coastal fleet

Letter to the editor:

The quality of cod supplied by the coastal fleet has improved in recent years. This is shown by the latest measurements from Nofima's catch damage records, write Sjurdur Joensen, Senior Researcher, Torbjørn Tobiassen, Researcher and Bent Dreyer, Head of Research at Nofima.

Letter to the editor:

This article was printed in Fiskeribladet on Friday 24 February 2017.

For a number of years, Nofima has been taking catch damage records, in which the quality of cod is recorded at the time of delivery. The trend shows that the quality has improved in recent years.

65 per cent good quality

The latest measurements from 2016 have yet to be reported but have formed the basis for the calculations, showing that around 65 per cent of the cod can be considered to be of good quality, 10 per cent of reduced quality and 25 per cent of poor quality.

It is therefore possible to further improve the quality, but it is not as bad as the impression given by public debate in recent weeks. Many people, at sea and on land, are proud to deliver high quality products.

Nofima’s measurements show that the quality of cod has improved in recent years. Seine-caught fish, jig-caught fish and line-caught fish have all performed better in recent measurements.

Poor quality is defined as serious faults in the loin area – “the fillet steak” – of the fish. The most common fault is high levels of blood in the muscle due to inadequate bleeding or the fish having died before being bled. This results in the muscle of the fish being red rather than the white colour that an inviting fish fillet should be.

Three factors

The capturing of fish can cause some faults in the fish. Blood faults are the major challenge and are affected by three factors:

  • Tools. Both the type and use of the tool can affect the quality of the cod.
  • Catch size. A correlation between large catch volumes and poor quality has been found.
  • Bleeding. The most common fault is inadequate bleeding. This may be due to poor or late bleeding. But it can also be a result of the catch being too large or the fish dying in the tool, or on board, prior to being bled.

It is also obvious that the quality will be affected by natural variations. Weather conditions and currents will always result in variation in quality. And when the cod has access to excess food – feasting on herring – it becomes harder to maintain good quality.

Further improvements

Quality work is essential. Our findings indicate that there have been improvements in recent years. What can now be done to further improve the quality of the cod? Our recommendations are as follows:

  • Establish maximum catch volumes/deliveries per day for each vessel. Approve vessels for a maximum limit of fish that can be caught per haul/day.
  • Continue the quality work with improvements to the flow on-board. Manage the fish flow so that the fish can be continually anaesthetised, bled and cooled.
  • Continue the work with gentle tool use, catch limitations for tools and gentle boarding of the fish.
  • Machine assessment and quality sorting at delivery. Machine measurement of quality will resolve the challenging discussions on the quay about what constitutes good and poor quality.
  • Pricing in accordance with quality.

Finally: Not all quality reductions are due to industry players.  There was bad weather in January and the cod have been grazing heavily on herring. These are conditions that have a negative impact on quality.

 Industrial economics    Seafood industry  

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