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Fishermen Trained on Fish Handling to Enhance Export Value

Tuna Sustainability Economics +7 more

INDIA - Onboard handling of tuna fish is of the essence and in particular the first hour after landing is very crucial, according to Francisco Blaha, a fisheries expert and FAO consultant from New Zealand.

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Mr Blaha, who imparted training to the local fishermen at a workshop organised by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) here on Tuesday, said Indian fishermen were able to catch tuna fish venturing into the sea even in catamarans, but that was not the best part, reports HinduBusinessLine.

Immediately after catching the fish, it should be properly gilled and gutted to keep the histamine levels within the stipulated limits. It should then be preserved properly. Otherwise, the fish which is in great demand in Japan, the US and the EU will lose much of its export value," he explained.

He demonstrated to the fishermen how the tuna fish should be gilled (removal of gills), gutted (removal of guts) and preserved in ice onboard a boat.

Iddya Karunasagar, a senior fishery officer of the FAO, said such workshops had so far been conducted in Tuticorin, Nagapattinam and Visakhapatnam and the next one would be in Kochi.

It is estimated that India has a potential of 2,13,000 tonnes of tuna fish in the exclusive economic zone, but only a fraction is exploited now. Even its value is greatly diminished due to poor post-harvest practices. Therefore, the MPEDA and FAO are jointly organising these workshops," he said.

He said the fishing gear also needed to be changed.

Fishermen in India are using gill nets, which is not conducive to proper handling of the fish. Long lines should be used. According to the US standards, the histamine levels should not cross 50 PPM (parts per million) in tuna. Then it will fetch a good price in the international market."

He said canned tuna was in great demand in the US, shasmi grade tuna in Japan and value-added products in the European Union.