Maximizing the Catch Responsibly

Today's fishermen know that the value of their catch directly depends on how well it is processed or preserved on the way to delivery. In other words, the better its quality, the higher the price it fetches. Staying competitive in exceedingly regulated waters demands the most advanced fishing and processing technology, an undeniable trend to which Norwegian equipment producers have been quick to respond.

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Norway's fishing fleet is one of the world's largest and most technologically advanced. So Norwegian skippers - and their suppliers - certainly know the tools of their trade. Durable, modern fishing gear that finds, harvests and preserves high-quality fish has helped Norwegian fishermen maintain their advantage at sea, an advantage Norway's gear manufacturers now willingly export. Norwegian purse seine nets, for example - traditionally used for catching surface-schooling species such as herring, mackerel and tuna - remain a popular export. Automated longlines, dragged directly from a below-water hull port, demonstrate how innovative on-board equipment has changed the way an industry thinks.

 

The skippers and caretakers of the world's fishing fleets, as well as the people working in the processing plants, all agree that the integrity of the fishing industry chain - from a vessel's first echo-survey to the filleting line - has become more important than ever. The buoyancy of the industry depends on quality at every stage of handling.

 

Best Taste, No Waste
Ironically, the most profitable fishing methods are also the most environmentally friendly ones. With modern longliners, for example, virtually 100% of every individual fish is utilized, so that in effect none of the catch is wasted. While Norwegian gear for modern fleets is focused on maximal catch efficiency, quality preservation and environmental friendliness, it is sold mainly to Western Europe's coastal nations. Meanwhile, most fishermen in less-developed nations are still employing obsolete fishing methods that are both wasteful of catch and environmentally devastating. Most typical are small-capacity boats using destructive net technology. In addition, bad after-catch processing and handling lead to more spoil.

Unfortunately, lack of funding is a constant obstacle to upgrading these antiquated fleets, so precious fishery resources continue to be squandered. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that a quarter of the fish caught for human consumption in developing countries is lost to waste and spoilage. Inspired by the need to reduce loss and stimulate food production, Norway is actively promoting fisheries management expertise in developing countries, through funding and research programmes. (Should be mentioned that not all newly developed technology is environmentally responsible; fibreglass netting lost at sea, for instance, is not biologically degradable and continues catching and killing sea life indefinitely.)

 

Modern Vessels: Size Matters
With most of the world's major fisheries overworked, the economic survival of fishers depends on the efficiency of making every fish count. High-efficiency coastal fishing boats, a speciality of Selfa Arctic, are always in demand, while fishing vessels for the open seas need high capacities above all to maximize their catch. Today's largest fishing boats can load 1,000 tonnes, are powered by 8,000 HP for the speed to cover large areas, and come equipped with high-tech fish-finding technology. Simrad AS, a Norwegian standard-bearer in marine electronics, supplies fleets with state-of-the-art equipment for fish finding as well as communications, navigation and steering.

 

meydam1.jpg (24300 bytes)Meydam AS deck package for new building yard no. 27 at Fitjar meck.
Customer Austevoll Havfiske.

 

Modern, large-scale fishing vessels require high-capacity components for every element of the drive train. And Norway boasts some of the finest suppliers of ship's gear to fishing boat builders. State-of-the-art engines, thrusters, propellers, transmissions and more are available from Norwegian companies with proven expertise. The profile pages within this publication highlight the superior products of many well-established Norwegian companies. Offering every piece of gear that modern fishing boats may need, these suppliers have the experience of serving the world's foremost fishing nations, knowing their fishermen cannot afford to settle for second-rate equipment.

 

Research Applied to Catches
A range of Norwegian innovations are helping the industry to keep today's precious catches healthy until they can be processed. Studying fish survivability characteristics has paid off by providing the basis for designs enabling the catch to remain onboard while awaiting various stages of processing. One way to ensure quality is to transport fish live from the harvest site directly to market. Marine researchers in Norway developed an on-board tank capable of carrying 700 kg of live plaice per cubic metre, virtually without loss. And the Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture has designed a flat-bottomed meshed cage for storing live fish, including deep-water species, until they are sold or processed. The new cage has boosted the survival rate of cod from 50 to 95 per cent.

 

It is crucially important to maintain the freshness of dead fish being transported to market. Adding ozone to the water in which fish is stored lowers bacterial levels, staves off mould, inhibits odours and keeps fish fresh longer. Preservation is of particular concern to fisheries in warmer climes. Chilled fish that is too soft when transferred from a fishing vessel to a processing plant often turns to pulp and gets flushed away with wastewater.


To combat this erosion of catch value, Norwegian ice-plant manufacturer Finsam Refrigeration has worked extensively with fishermen in Chile and Peru to develop equipment that mixes ice evenly in with the catch.

 

At the private Norwegian research foundation SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, targeted research programmes help domestic and international shipyards to offer designs that employ economies of scale within a ship's confines. SINTEF also co-operated with Rolls-Royce Marine to develop a method which enables trawlers to avoid having to haul their catch onto the deck. The fish are sluiced aboard via an underwater portal, released from the trawl and pumped into RSW-tanks. This gentler concept greatly reduces the number of fish injuries, raising the quality (hence profitability) of the catch.

 

SINTEF has also worked to develop technology to detect unwanted substances across the fisheries industry, and field software to test the entire industry chain is available for checking the quality of exports. SINTEF's research is at the heart of these innovations, and the group has joined 18 companies and research institutes in the European Union's "Tracefish" initiative, aimed at establishing an industry-wide protocol for identifying pollutants in processed fish products. Norwegian information and communications technology is poised to help code and disseminate the information, while providing a fishing industry standard. Research efforts focusing on eliminating waste have boosted the viability of smaller-scale coastal fisheries and reinvigorated the fishing industry as a whole.

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