Fishing gears have negative impacts on seafood quality, especially on fish in the mixed trawl fishery targeting Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus). In this fishery, which is worth about €80 millions in Denmark alone, the quality of fish can be significantly improved by simple gear changes. A trawl codend divided into an upper and lower codend was designed to separate fish from Norway lobster during the fishing process by encourage fish to swim into the upper codend by using a frame at the entrance of the lower codend. Separate codends for fish and Norway lobster in the same gear provide the opportunity to selectively reduce small low-value fish, which will reduce catch weight and sorting time onboard the vessel. For this horizontally divided test codend and a standard codend, in which the catch was mixed, quality assessments were performed on the same batches of fish during three steps of the value chain: i) aboard the fishing vessel; ii) at the Fishermen's Collection Central, and iii) in the production plant. Four species of fish and fillets from fish caught in the upper codend of the test codend were of significantly better quality for several of the assessed parameters compared with those caught in the standard codend: i) newly caught fish showed significantly less scale loss and discolourations and had significantly better texture; ii) landed fish had significantly better skin appearance and texture and significantly fewer discolourations; and iii) fillets showed significantly fewer blood spots and had significantly better texture. There were no differences in injuries for newly caught fish or gaping and bruises for fillets between the test and standard codends. The decrease in catch-related damages in the test codend is explained by little contact between fish and animals with hard or spiny surfaces due to successful separation of fish and Norway lobster into the upper and lower codends, respectively, and by lower catch weight in the upper codend of the test codend compared with the standard codend. The decrease in damages may also improve quality indirectly by inflicting less stress to the fish and subsequently give better texture, which offers advantages such as pre-rigor filleting and fresher products for the market. Significant improvements in fish quality can potentially increase the catch value in nationally important fisheries.
Karlsen, J. D., Krag, L. A., Albertsen, C. M., & Frandsen, R. P. (2015). From fishing to fish processing: Separation of fish from crustaceans in the Norway lobster-directed multispeciestrawl fishery improves seafood quality. PLoS ONE, 10(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140864