The wild capture fisheries and its associated postharvest (PH) industry are a critical economic resource within the Seychelles, accounting for more than 90% of total exports and employing nearly 17% of the active population. There is a clear need to ensure that the processes utilised within these two industries provide the highest quality, but also the most sustainable, product. In this respect, there has been an increasing focus on processes that provide a value addition (mainly associated with processing caught fish into different ‘products’ for different markets – e.g., through various processing procedures), and the contribution of such activities and value-added products for the continued growth of the sector and the country’s economy (e.g., Seychelles Fisheries Sector Policy & Strategy 2019 , Fisheries Comprehensive Plan 2019 ). Despite this, one form of ‘value addition’ is in identifying and reducing any loss of value from within both the marine capture and processing PH industries – in this respect, reducing PH fish loss (PHFL) . However, within the Seychelles, there is still little understanding of the breadth and extent of PHFL within both capture and PH industries, including best practice to ensure where losses occur these are reduced.
Loss of fish quality or value (as well as quantity) can occur throughout a fisheries’ supply chain. However, loss if most likely to occur following landing of the catch (i.e., on board the vessel) , hence the emphasis on ‘postharvest’ fish loss. Within this, there are a number of different parameters that may structure such loss:
• Time between death and final use or consumption;
• Temperature abuse, with high ambient temperatures creating favourable conditions for fish spoilage;
• Poor handling practices, which can lead to sustained and increased microbial contamination, hastening the spoilage rate of fish. Such poor handling practices can include using dirty equipment, fish boxes and baskets; not washing fish; washing fish in dirty water; placing fish on dirty surfaces; and physically damaging fish by throwing or standing on them; and
• Differential timing of spoilage depending on the type of fish (e.g., higher oil content).
Besides spoilage, PHFL can be caused by at-sea discards of small-sized fishes, as well as fishes that are not valuable enough to land for sale; poor on-board processing techniques damaging fish; animal predation and insect infestation; inadequate packaging and storage practices leading to damage of the end product; and market dynamics, especially fluctuations in demand and supply of fish and fish products affecting the price per fish and therefore income.
Understanding how such practices relate to the wild capture and processing industries within the Seychelles will allow this work to examine the breadth and extent of PHFL, and provide recommendations for reduction or remediation of such losses. Therefore, in understanding and supporting the Seychelles Fishing Authority in reducing PHFL within the Seychelles, this project examines three objectives:
• Objective 1: Characterization and quantification of PHFL throughout the fisheries supply chain, focusing on the nearshore artisanal and semi-industrial sectors;
• Objective 2: Development of a framework for monitoring of PHFL throughout the supply chain of the nearshore artisanal and semi-industrial sectors, and provision of recommendations on policy support to promote industry compliance with monitoring; and
• Objective 3: Provision of recommendations for mitigation measures to reduce PHFL, inclusive of potential business opportunities and economic gain from investing in the processing of fisheries by-product.