Fish Farming Week, essential reading for the aquaculturist, has been reporting on new trends in the industry aimed at reducing preparation time and cost for both the fish farmer and the consumer. The magazine reports that a research station in the Scottish Isles has managed to produce cod which comes fresh from the sea ready battered.
Jamie Shaw, a leading researcher for the Aquaculture Board explains how the process was developed by happy accident. ‘We spent years attempting to make the cod ready for the fryer by experimenting with different additives in minute quantities, but all attempts ended in failure. Then, just as we had given up hope, a tankful of thick batter accidentally leaked into the fish pools and, to our surprise, we discovered the cod thrived in the stuff. It’s as if they were made to go together.’
The discovery is expected to lead to a sea change in the way cod is farmed. Trials adding vinegar to the batter mix have gone well and Mr Shaw is cautiously optimistic that the healthy breadcrumb option will work once a satisfactory method to deter seabirds has been perfected. ‘This is proving to be a bit of an albatross around our necks,’ he said, ‘but I’m sure we will succeed so long as we don’t duck the issue.’
Additional products are already being planned for the export market. ‘We are already looking at sushi production; seaweed grows naturally in abundance here so all we have to do is to get the fish used to swimming in rice and we will have it cracked.’
However, not all of the planned product lines have been so successful. Although the introduction of contraband cigarettes for the production of ready smoked salmon was a technical triumph, many fish failed to put on sufficient weight because they started the day gasping for a fag instead of eating their pellets. Some developed smoking-related conditions and had to undergo expensive treatment before they were fully cured. And the joint venture with livestock farmers to develop battered sausages failed when a herd of pigs were tragically drowned.