Businesses offered help to process tuna by-catch


 The delegates at the experts’ meeting in a souvenir photo with Mr Sinon

Investment, Natural Resources and Industry Minister Peter Sinon said this yesterday morning when he opened a five-day meeting for experts on fish technology, quality assurance and marketing, at the International Conference Centre.

Up to 15,000 tonnes of fish is caught as by-catch and discarded or poorly used when industrial tuna vessels bring in 300,000 tonnes of mainly tuna into Port Victoria annually.

The experts are looking for ways of boosting food security by reducing post-harvest loss of fish through spoilage and being thrown away “because it is not of the desired species”.

“Seychelles has been exporting large quantities of canned tuna, fresh and frozen fish, fish oil mainly on the European Union market, frozen tuna to Mauritius, Madagascar, Spain, etc., and fish meal to Australia, Sri Lanka and Japan,” said Mr Sinon.

“The production of fish and fishery products in Seychelles is therefore quite diverse.

 However, one of the government’s policies in the fisheries sector is to further diversify, with special emphasis on developing more value added products. The potential for value addition using mainly by-catch from the industrial tuna vessels is big noting that about 250,000 to 300,000 tons of fish are landed and transshipped annually in Port Victoria and about 5% or 12,500 –15,000 tons of that are by-catch which is currently very much Linda Esther and Ange Harrison vacuum-packing smoked and other fish products at the artisanal fishing port yesterday. The government is calling on more businesses to process by-catch (Photo by G.T.)underutilised.”

He said the government – through the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) – is offering facilities to small businesses that have shown interest to venture in this sector.

“They are being encouraged to seriously take the challenge with the support of governmental institutions specialised in helping small enterprises.

He said this will not only increase productivity and diversity of fishery products on the local and export market, but also create job opportunities.

“However, to successfully penetrate the international market, strict standards and legislations on hygiene and quality assurance have to be met and all producers must be fully aware that there is no short cut to this. Failing to meet international standards will make it difficult if not impossible for developing countries to trade its products internationally.

“This results in continued losses in earnings, wastage of valuable fisheries resources due to poor sanitary conditions during handling and processing, inadequacies in processing technology and production of low quality products,” he said.

A manager at one of the companies – Sea Harvest – that is already processing by-catch, said it has markets for any kind of fish normally thrown away at sea, and can export up to six containers a month, but does not always get enough raw material because fishers who catch tuna often do not consider the other species as important.

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