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. 

Explore Ways to Reduce Loss and Waste

  • Supportive Policy Environment
  • Application of Appropriate Technology
  • Skills and Knowledge
  • Services and Infrastructure
  • Regulatory Environment
  • Social and Gender Equity
  • Markets

Select an icon to learn more.

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

One of the major issues prevailing in the fisheries and aquaculture industry in Sri Lanka is the high loss and waste of fish, and it has become necessary to introduce strategies aimed at preventing and...
In Africa, food loss occurs in most, if not all, small-scale fish supply chains, and constitutes not only lost income to fishers, processors, and traders, but also contributes to food insecurity and malnutrition because a...
What happens to fish after it is caught has a big impact on its quality. This guide is for fishers, vessel owners, extension services, and anyone interested in how to maintain fish quality.