Over 50 local fishermen attend Samoa Tuna Processors and WPRFMC fish workshop Tuesday

By Tony Gasu of Samoanews.com - May 24, 2011

Dr. John Kaneko

Picture of Dr. John Kaneko, who is the program manager of the Hawaii Seafood Council, and the fresh tuna expert.

This past Saturday morning was a fortunate moment for most of the local fishermen on island, as the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council in conjunction with the Samoa Tuna Processors, offered training to the fishermen... about the special handling of fish by the smaller boat owners for a high quality outcome - more money.

The program which started at 8:30 a.m. was conducted by Dr. John Kaneko, program manager of the Hawaii Seafood Council. The workshop that expected to have less than forty participants, ended up with a packed training room with over fifty participants on hand, with most interested in promoting the higher quality fishery market.

The main goal of the training was to help American Samoa fishermen understand and adopt the on-board fish handling procedures required to meet fish quality and seafood safety standards of cannery and fresh/frozen fish market.

The importance of fish quality was one of the key targets of the training, emphasizing how the fresh caught fish should be first preserved out at sea during the time of the capture, all the way to the time of exportation, so that it can get to the key fishery markets, and it can sell for a high quality price. In this way, not only does the export company benefit, but the fishermen as well.

"Fish quality depends in large part on the way fish are handled after capture", said Dr. Kaneko. The safety of many of the important fish we eat is also determined by on-board fish handling.

These include tuna, mahimahi, marlin, and akule that may form a toxin - histamine (the cause of histamine poisoning) under conditions that allow bacteria to grow rapidly (high temperatures), especially after capture.

Both fish quality and histamine formation can be easily controlled by rapid chilling. Quickly dropping the fish temperature to below 40 degrees fahrenheit is the best way to improve fish quality and at the same time, control spoilage and prevent histamine formation.

According to Dr. Kaneko, the best guidance is also the simplest, which is to be prepared and carry enough ice to properly chill the catch, to be clean and avoid bacteria which causes spoilage and histamine formation.

For the preparing of rapid fish chilling, it is recommended that the cooling of the fish is much faster with the gills and guts removed. Another one of these simple techniques is to not delay icing, or putting fish in ice or ice brine (2 parts ice and 1 part seawater) immediately. Add ice as needed, and to keep it cold in order to keep the fish properly iced for the rest of the trip and at all times until eaten.

Dr. Kaneko briefly targeted the local fishermen with small fishing crafts such as alias, noting that they are the key to this project, and it is they who will provide the top of the line catches to be exported to the US, Asia, and other countries around the world that have high fishery stock marketing.

Some of the fish that were discussed to have a high cost in this type of business, belong to the tuna family, which includes the Bigeye, Yellowfin, Skipjack, Albacore, Pacific Bluefin, Kawakawa, and other tuna relatives. Also in this category are the billfish, which include Shortbill spearfish, Striped Marlin, Swordfish, Sailfish, Blue Marlin, and Black Marlin.

The Shark family are also one of the targeted species in the fishery market, as they target the Pelagic Thresher, Bigeye Thresher, Common Thresher,  Silky Shark, Ocean Whitetip, Blue Shark, Shortfin Mako, Longfin Mako, and the Salmon Shark. The Pelagic Species were also discussed: Moonfish, Wahoo, Oilfish, Mahimahi, Pomfret, Ono, Monchong, Opah, Neon Flying squid, Diamondback Squid, and Purple Flying Squid.

Different fishing methods were also discussed in the training, such as Long line fishing, Hand line fishing, Trolling, Pole and Line, and Purse Seine fishing.

Long line fishing benefits with main fish supply, long shelf life, and highest quality tuna, as hand line fishing has lower volume, shorter shelf life, tendency to burn tuna, but provides a high quality of deep bottom fish.

Trolling consists of a lower volume, highest quality mahimahi, ono, marlin, shorter shelf life for tuna, and tendency to burn.

Pole and Line fishing mostly lure in the Aku, as the Aku boats use live bait to attract aku and ahi. They use rods with feathered barbless hooks to catch the highest quality Aku.

At the conclusion of the program, some of the participants shared their experience on how fishing on island is being coordinated, and some of the ideas that they use to manage the quality of the fish out at sea, such as using ice and salt, or saltwater and ice.

The recommendation offered by Dr. Kaneko is to "keep it cold and keep it moving", re-emphasizing that keeping the receiving fish temperatures at the 40 degrees fahrenheit or lower is one of the most important rules of quality on-board handling of catch.

Another point he noted was a need for the vessels to keep records that show the fish were handled and iced properly at sea, because without these records, histamine testing could be required. And last but not least, the sensory examination at receiving is essential to cull spoiled and potentially high histamine fish.

Most of the participants were very pleased with the workshop - and requested another event similar to last Saturday's training, sometime this year. Samoa News will advise the public, when another training or workshop will be held.

Background on STP AND Tri Marine

Samoa Tuna Processor is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tri Marine Group of Companies.  Tri Marine‚Äôs business includes fishing, procurement, processing and trading of tuna and other seafood products. Headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, Tri Marine has offices in 14 countries with 10 processing plants located strategically around the world.   Its owned fleet of 14 tuna purse seiners operates mostly in the Western Pacific.   Tri Marine was founded in Singapore in 1971. Since then it has grown to be one of the largest tuna supply companies in the world and it provides an efficient, cost effective and flexible supply chain solution for its customers. Tri Marine serves famous brands, processing plants and fishing companies.

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