Bycatch problem filleted by researcher UM

More fish for the food bank

Can we make food bank customers happy with bycatch? Madhura Rao, researcher at Maastricht University, wanted to know whether donating excess caught fish to food banks would be a welcome addition to the packages and contribute to reducing food waste. It seems like a nice win-win situation, but her research shows that there are some snags to such a construction.

Save the baby fish

For a few years now, fishermen are no longer allowed to throw their bycatch, which is undersized or out of quota, back into the sea. This EU measure is provoking strong reactions. Animal rights activists regret that baby fish are not given a chance to grow and reproduce. Fishermen are angry because their ships are not equipped to carry that extra, unwanted cargo. This so-called landing obligation forces them to fish more selectively, but that too has its limitations. Moreover, it is not clear what happens to the bycatch. Sometimes batches are simply destroyed for lack of a good destination.

Eat more fish

Together with students from University College Venlo, Rao investigated whether bycatch would be an interesting product for food banks, for example. Indeed, the research shows that recipients of food parcels would like to eat more fish. For nutritional reasons, for variety or for religious reasons. However, just like other food donations, this fish must be delivered safe, ready for use and consumer-friendly.

Hooks and eyes

It seems an attractive idea to donate unwanted bycatch to the food bank. In practice, however, there appear to be quite a few snags. Transport and storage must be done according to certain requirements, such as refrigeration. Moreover, the bycatch must be prepared for consumption. Who organizes and pays for all this? And how is quality guaranteed? Incidentally, there are sympathetic initiatives, for example by fishermen from Rotterdam who, as a Christmas campaign, prepare and bake their bycatch for the homeless. But in order to donate bycatch on a large scale, a few things will have to be sorted out and arranged.

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