Food Loss and Waste in Fish Value Chains
©FAO/Ansen Ward

Artisanal Fish Drying

Artisanal processing is associated with small-scale fisheries, and leverages methods such as sun drying, salting, fermenting, and smoking and frying, all of which enable fish to be preserved in locations where ice and refrigeration are non-existent or too expensive. These processes generally involve destroying spoilage bacteria and enzymes and creating conditions which unsuitable for microbial growth and proliferation. Many methods rely on the removal of moisture from the fish with or without some form of heat treatment, such as smoking or frying.  

Drying involves the evaporation of moisture from the surface of the fish and the migration of moisture from inside the fish to the surface. Drying is affected by the movement of air over the surface of the fish as well as the temperature and humidity of that air.  Sun drying of fish, with or without the addition of salt, is practiced in many tropical countries, and is a low cost form of preservation. 

Food loss and waste (FLW) associated with artisanal sun drying occurs because of poor quality raw material (poor quality in poor quality out), poor handling practices and inadequate drying techniques. Insufficient processing capacity, compounded by bad weather conditions, trigger delays in processing, especially at times of excess supply. Poor weather conditions, such as rain and cloud cover, make drying difficult and cause spoilage. It is not unusual to find a situation whereby high catches coincide with periods of poor weather, hence the problem of FLW is more significant and can be seasonal. 

Key Publications

Post-Harvest Losses in Small-Scale Fisheries

This FAO publication discusses case studies that aimed to develop regional experts in fish loss assessment; generate fish loss data in fisheries of socio-economic importance; and produce practical fish loss assessment guides.

Small scale processing of fish

Types of fish species, fish products, processing technologies, processing methods, and suggestions for avoiding spoilage before, during and after processing, are discussed. This publication gives particular regard to small-scale producers in developing countries.

The Production of Dried Fish

Detailed description of dried fish production and storage.                                                                                                                                         


More Resources

More Resources

This guide is for dried-shrimp producers and buyers and aims to describe good processing, handling and hygiene practices that will help producers maximize the value and income from dried shrimp. 
TECA is a platform where you can find practical information – agricultural including fisheries technologies and practices – to help small producers. 
This FAO publication summarizes fish loss assessment case studies conducted by SAVE FOOD in Indonesia. The goal was to understand physical losses, and identify critical loss points and reduction interventions in value chains.