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Feeding caught saithe makes for bigger loins

NORWAY - Studies by Fiskeriforskning show the difficulty of increasing the weight of small saithe caught in the wild through feeding. Bigger saithe would increase the demand for and value of fillet products.

Today, large numbers of small saithe are being caught. This fish is usually too small to produce profitable fillet products.

But bigger saithe would enable production of bigger loins, the thick and most valuable part of the fillet.

Demand for saithe

Saithe fillets as we usually see them in the shops. Cutting out the loin would increase the value of the saithe.
The industry requires bigger saithe for the production of loins.
Today, large numbers of saithe are being caught but they are often too small to produce loins big enough to meet demand.

Fiskeriforskning has completed a project that followed saithe through every stage from live storage to feeding, production and out to the markets in Norway, Germany and France.

It was concluded that loins of saithe are a potentially profitable product for which there is market demand, provided that the size of the fillet is around 200 grams.

"The difficulty is to obtain saithe big enough to produce such a fillet", says Morten Heide, one of three scientists who worked on the project:

Can be stored live

Market surveys show the great importance of fillet size if saithe is to reap success as a fresh product.

Over 70 per cent of saithe caught by seine nets weighs under 1.6 kg and to produce a loin of about 200 g, the saithe must weigh at least 2 kg.

Therefore scientists have been testing feeding of small saithe.

However, the fish ate only a little and consequently did not grow as much as had been hoped. The feeding costs and limited growth render it difficult to make feeding profitable.

Scientists recommend that only saithe big enough to produce loin of about 200 g be put into live storage.

"Limited feeding of saithe over 2 kg to maintain their weight until slaughter can be profitable", says scientist Torbjørn Tobiassen.

This solution would enable live storage of saithe in autumn, when most of the big saithe are caught.

"This would give the industry a continuous supply of saithe through autumn and winter, a period when fish stocks are relatively low", adds Torbjørn Tobiassen.

Can improve quality

The project also showed a significant difference in the quality of fillets produced before and after onset of rigor mortis.

Fillets produced before rigor mortis are of clearly better quality - the fillet is firmer and shows significantly less splitting.

Live storage means having the raw materials accessible at the production facility, allowing sufficient time for filleting after the fish have been slaughtered before rigor mortis sets in.

Collaboration between fleet and industry

For fishing vessels that use seine nets, the most efficient practice is to catch large quantities with small saithe in a short period of time.

But this makes it difficult to achieve a more regular supply of larger fish, which is necessary for producing bigger and better paid fillets.

The report from Fiskeriforskning identifies the possibility of the fishing industry and the fishing fleet collaborating on a scheme to pay higher prices for catches of large saithe.

"If the industry is able to ensure access to bigger saithe it will enable production of fresh saithe, which is more in demand and earns a better market price", says Morten Heide.

The market surveys also show that great importance is attached to information about the product and production methods.

"Product information can be very important in marketing and sales of saithe fillets", adds Morten Heide.

The project was carried out on behalf of the Norwegian Seafood Federation and was financed by the Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund.