Fish Handling Training: Empowering Fishers for Better Fish Quality

4 Jan 2018
Indah Rufiati

Fish quality issues, especially at certain times of year, is prevalent across Indonesia. Poorly handled fish and high levels of histamine become the main cause of the fish quality decline. This condition has affected the fishers’ income because buyers refuse to accept lower quality fish or if they accept it, they will buy it atvery low price. In an effort to improve fish handling skills amongst small-scale handline fishers in Parigi village, North Seram, Maluku, on October 13th, MDPI under the USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (USAID SEA) Project, conducted a training of on-board fish handling attended by 44 fishers.

Staff from PT. Harta Samudera Ambon, Cindy J. Hiso and Wilson Taihuttu explained the importance of maintaining the cleanliness and the frozen chain/cold chain in the fish handling process to maintain the fish quality. The main causes of food safety hazard, they further explained, are raw material contaminants; raw material bad handling; sanitation, hygiene, health and personal skill; equipment suitability, and processing method. Poor fish handling will have high potential for Salmonella and high histamine levels.

A session on histamine testing was presented by Hanna from Bali Seafood International Laboratory (BASIL). Information about histamine and its causes is important for fishers to better understand that high levels of histamine in fish can cause bad impact to health, from skin itching to food poisoning. Five fish catch from the Parigi fishers were used as samples for histamine testing during the training. Through a quantitative trial, the histamine level identified on site was between 5.8 to 11.9 ppm (parts per million), which means that the fish tested was safe for consumption. This indicates that that potentially the fish is safe when it reaches land. However histamine issues may be occurring as fish comes into the supply chain to last processing and export.

Through this training, it I expected that fishers will understand and hone skills on good fish handling practices; that all handling areas are well maintained and clean at all times (on-board and in supplier); and that the  maintenance of the cold chain is highly important.

“I am relieved to hear that our fish was proven safe for consumption through the histamine testing. When fish was observed during the training, the quality was excellent with grade A or AA. Potentially, fish quality issues occur only at the supplier level. In other words, the fishers have already been well-informed and have done their parts to maintain high quality fish,” says Alwiya Kaledupa, a member of Fair Trade Fishers Association

Furthermore, he hopes that an adequate and reliable source of ice can be maintained in Parigi to support the quality and handling approaches.

Writer: Wahyu Teguh Prawira

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