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Research Company Investigates Improvement of Mackerel Catch Value

25 November 2013

ICELAND - Over the last few years, mackerel has been seen – and caught – around Iceland in ever increasing amounts, resulting in the speedy development of processing techniques of the product.

Matis was the lead partner in research on the fishing and processing of mackerel in close collaboration with fishing and service companies, with the goal of making as much of the catch as possible suitable for freezing and human consumption.

The project utilized information from others with experience in the fishing and processing of mackerel.

Mackerel is a fish that has been found in increasing numbers around Iceland, resulting in an increase in the fishing of it, but knowledge of its habits or nature is scarce. It is caught during the summer months around Iceland, when the sea is warmest. Mackerel enter Icelandic waters rather slim but fatten up in a short period of time. A fish with oily meat, it grows quite fast and is therefore delicate to handle and can spoil quickly when it is caught fresh around the island.

Through collaboration with the Icelandic fishing companies, it has been revealed that by using the ships' powerful cooling systems and by taking in only a small catch with a short haul each time, you can cool down the mackerel quite quickly, or to -1.7 degrees. By doing so, the effects of digestive enzymes (Krill; Calanus finmarchicus) on the fish are decelerated.

By then keeping the mackerel cool through on-shore processing, its quality is maintained until the catch has been frozen. These methods are now the norm on board Icelandic mackerel ships, with the result that during the mackerel season of the summer of 2011, nearly all of the catch was transformed into valuable frozen products. Research and collaboration with the fishing industry thereby produced lucrative results – and an improved performance within the field.

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