Inadequate icing, chemical use cause 12pc fish harvest loss

July 29, 2010

More than 12 per cent of the country’s fish harvest is lost due to ignorance and negligence in management and processing at different stages from the harvest to retail distribution, reports NewAge.
Nearly 25 per cent fish are consumed fresh while only a portion of the 40 per cent fish that require icing are properly processed, according to the findings of a recent survey.
Except hilsa, prawn, shrimp, pomfret and other high valued marine species, ideal icing is not practiced for other fishes causing an average loss of 12.4 per cent in the wet fish harvest every year in the country, the survey report added.
The country’s annual fish production amounts to 27.23 million tonnes against the demand of 32.20 million tonnes.
Presence of antibiotics, toxic dyes, chemicals, lack of cold storage and technical knowledge are the main reasons for deterioration in the quality level of wet fish, revealed the study on ‘Post-Harvest Loss Reduction in Fisheries in Bangladesh: A Way Forward to Food Security’.
A six-member survey team presented the finding of the study at a seminar on ‘National Food Policy and Capacity Strengthening Programme’ in Dhaka earlier this month.
Bangladesh Agricultural University’s teacher AKM Nawshad Alam, who led the team, said improper handling of wet fish post harvest often makes valuable nutrients inaccessible to human body.
Survey team also included Mohammad Aminul Islam, Nazmul Hassan, Motaleb Hossain, Zahirul Islam, Murshida Khan and Kawser Ali.
Alam said lack of technical knowledge, recurrence of natural disaster, decline of catch in natural waters, lack of potable water supply, and lack of insulated van for vending, money lending from agents are the common constrain in wet fish distribution chain.
The study found that a total of 88 per cent fishermen, 77 per cent fish farmers, 27 per cent retailers and 47 per cent fish vendors do not use ice in fish at all.
Ice is also unavailable during peak harvest seasons while intemperate and contaminated ice blocks are often used causing significant loss. Moreover, the loss also depends on distance and lack of awareness among the actors of the primary fish markets.
The study recommended preparing of a fish safety action plan for domestic fish in line with Codex Alimentations and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point rules.
Standards for icing of commercial species should be developed, while fish handling, icing and market sanitation should be monitored regularly and market actors in fish distribution chain should be defined in fisheries policy, according to the recommendations.
The survey report also mentioned the findings of the Bangladesh Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research which cited the presence of formalin as a reason for the loss of post harvest in fisheries sector.

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