How to Profitably Process Small Whitefish in the UK and Ireland – Whitepaper
In the vast majority of cases, whitefish that are this size are deemed uneconomical to process for human consumption. Using a traditional manual production line, you would need a lot of staff and many of them would need a high level of skill. Also, let’s face it, it’s not very pleasant work, as it is difficult and fiddly to fillet whitefish that are so small.
So, back to what happens when small whitefish are part of the industry’s catch. The reality is that a sizeable amount is discarded – as much as 50 percent. This practice has a negative impact on the industry in multiple ways, especially the impact it can potentially have on the sustainability of certain fish species.
The practice is also contrary to fishing regulations and the quota system, and it can lead to negative publicity and reputational problems for the fishing industry in particular as well as the sector more broadly.
Of course, the small whitefish catch isn’t completely discarded. About 50 percent is landed, but it is landed as whole fish. It also has a limited market, with most of the landed catch sent for fishmeal production.
Research and Development at SF Engineering
Recent R&D work we undertook involved looking at the small whitefish processing challenge – could this type of fish catch be profitably processed for human consumption? We knew there was potential, as small whitefish have a significantly lower cost price than whitefish that are twice the weight.
If we could make processing small whitefish efficient, with a minimal labour requirement and a high level of throughput, the result could be a new opportunity for fish processors looking to add a new and profitable line to their facility.
We worked with our industry partners, combining their expertise and the over 25 years of experience we have here at SF Engineering to develop a solution that has now successfully completed the proof-of-concept phase.