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Food Loss and Waste in Fish Value Chains
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Regulatory Environment for On-board Handling in Small-Scale Fisheries

Regulatory authorities should be equipped to implement national food law –which will often entail extension to educate fishers, advisory services, and enforcement – and establish standards. Food law should lay out the requirements for good on-board handling practices and food safety requirements that minimize food loss and waste (FLW). Food standards and codes of practice should encourage the uptake of good on-board handling practice and make the requirements of fishers available in a format understandable by them. This may entail simplification of language and producing pictorial dissemination materials.

The Codex Alimentarius Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products is a reference point for good practice which becomes a legal requirement.

Legislation Related to On-Board Handling of Fish and FLW

Legislation Related to On-Board Handling of Fish and FLW

Two examples of legislation related to the on-board handling of fish and practices which promote a reduction in food loss and waste (FLW) are: 

These regulations have been used to influence the national legislation in many countries, particularly those exporting fish to the EU market. Key issues in this legislation are:

  • Fishing vessels must be designed and constructed so as not to contaminate fish
  • Surfaces with which fishery products come into contact must be corrosion resistant, smooth easy to clear and disinfect
  • Equipment and materials used for working on fishery product must be made of non-corrosion resistant and easy to clean (refer to your spades for scooping ice)
  • Fish must be chilled as soon as possible

Guidance for Sanitation On-board Fishing Vessels or Transport Boats

Guidance for Sanitation On-board Fishing Vessels or Transport Boats

 Guidance for the handling and treatment of fish on-board include:

  • The deck area used in sorting and cleaning fish should be washed immediately before and after each catch is stored.
  • The entire deck area of all fishing vessels (and, in the case of undecked vessels, the deck boards and bilge) or transport boat should be cleaned and sanitized immediately after the discharge of the fish taken on each trip.
  • The decks and holds of vessels, storage tanks and storage areas, containers and shelves and all surfaces coming into contact with fish should be maintained in good repair, and should be cleaned and treated with a sanitizer immediately after the discharge of each catch.
  • All cleaning areas including cutting benches should be cleaned and treated with a sanitizer when necessary, as well as immediately before use and after the discharge of the catch.
  • Utensils and equipment used in processing fish should at all times be maintained in a hygienic condition, and should be cleaned and treated with a sanitizer at the end of each working day. Utensils and equipment should be retreated with a sanitizer immediately before use.
  • Provisions should be made on the vessel or transport boat for proper storage of oils or materials, which could damage, contaminate or taint fish. Bait should be stored in containers capable of being readily cleaned and should be stored in such a way that it will not contaminate or taint the fish. The containers should be cleaned and treated with a sanitizer before re-use. All edible fish should be protected from damage or contamination.
  • The bilge of all vessels should be maintained in a sanitary condition.

Guidance for the Handling and Treatment of Fish On-board

Guidance for the Handling and Treatment of Fish On-board

Guidance for sanitation on-board fishing vessels or transport boats include:

  • All fish should be washed, and the debris removed from the fish prior to storage. Offal and voter should be kept clear of the fish, and should be disposed of at the earliest possible time.
  • Eviscerated fish should be washed, and the belly cavity cleaned in potable or clean sea water.
  • Containers for holding fish on the vessel or transport boat should conform to the requirements
  • All ice should be derived from potable water and should be clean wholesome and not be re-used.
  • Storing of fish on the vessel should be done under clean and hygienic conditions. Fish should not be exposed to deterioration or damage, nor should it be spiked in the flesh.
  • Iced fish stored in boxes, pounds, bins or pens should be packed with sufficient ice to maintain the fish at temperature close to that of melting ice between 2 °C and –1 °C for the duration of the trip.
  • Fish bins and pens should be provided with removable shelves at not more than 1 m intervals so as to prevent the crushing of fish.
  • Where one species of fish is known to have a detrimental effect on another specie when stored together, each specie should be stored in separate bins.
  • Packing and storage of fish should be so arranged so that adequate drainage is provided.

Requirements at Point of Unloading from Fishing Vessel or Transport Boat

Requirements at Point of Unloading from Fishing Vessel or Transport Boat

Guidance for requirements at point of unloading from fishing vessel or transport boat include:

  • Unloading procedures should be in accordance with sound commercial practice, and fish should not be left exposed to sunlight, rain, wind, extremes of temperature, or contamination by birds and vermin.
  • Any conveyors, fish pumps, or other mechanical systems which are used for unloading and which come into contact with the fish should be maintained in good repair and thoroughly cleaned and treated with a sanitizer after each operation.
  • Unless the fish is to be processed immediately, fish which has been de-iced during unloading should be re-iced or placed in a chiller operating at temperature between 2° and –1° within 3 hours.

Key Publications

Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products CAC/RCP 52-200

Global standard that presents information on freezing and cold storage practices which aim to reduce spoilage and waste.                                                                    

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs

European Union regulation that guides national requirements related to food temperature and control and food safety in many countries.                                                                                     

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 Laying Down Specific Hygiene Rules for Food of Animal Origin

European Union regulation that guides national requirements related to handling and hygiene. Annex III Section VIII specifically focuses on fish and fishery products.

More Resources

More Resources

This publication highlights key gender inequalities in fisheries and aquaculture value chains that lead to underperformance by women, and proposes good practice policies that can influence increases in production and processing of high-quality fish....
Global standard that presents information on freezing and cold storage practices which aim to reduce spoilage and waste. 
This document includes information related to food law implementation.