Underutilized fish species

Sweden has large resources of nutritional seafood, but there are only a few species that are landed and marketed. Several species, such as bream, are not considered commercially viable but are thrown back into the water. At the same time Sweden imports large quantities of seafood– in spite of a big demand, especially from the public sector, to buy locally captured fish. Axfoundation have together with researchers, dietitians , professional fishermen and the County Administrative Board in Stockholm mapped the availability of underutilized fish species, to evaluate their potential as nutritious and attractive food products. The project has, among other things, resulted in “Braxenfärs” (minced bream), a versatile product with a neutral, fine taste, which has received positive reactions from both school students and chefs.

The Issue

Primarily large predatory fish such as pike perch and pike are captured in the Swedish lakes today, while all fish further down the food chain are left in the lakes. Historically cyprinids such as roach, ide, bream and bleak were used, but are today not seen as commercially viable species and are therefore more often than not thrown back into the water. This means that these species increase in numbers and creates an imbalance in the ecosystem. Hence, there is a large quantity of unutilized seafood resources in the lakes – while almost 70 % of all fish consumed in Sweden is imported.

The Solution

We could contribute to a more balanced fishery, a better use of our resources and increased availability for nutritious seafood. With a more even pressure on the fishing throughout the food chain and the use of the underutilized fish species further down. It would also decrease our need to import seafood from the other side of the world.

Our Work

Axfoundation has mapped out the availability of underutilized fish species together with researchers, dietitians , professional fishermen and the County Administrative Board in Stockholm to evaluate their potential as nutritious and attractive food products. One of these is bream. We started in the Mälaren Valley and will – if the initiative is successful – scale it up on a national level.

We have also investigated the possibility of utilizing far more of each caught or farmed fish by using modern techniques to extrude the meat from between the bones after the fish has been filleted. Only 60 % of the whole fish is today used for food and the waste is at best used as animal feed. By using more of the fish for food, we can increase the availability of nutritious seafood and reduce food waste. Another central part of the work concerns the logistics chain and production opportunities where several suppliers and variants are evaluated.

Together with a number of actors, we evaluate the different seafood sensory qualities (for example; smell, taste, texture) and use the seafood in several products that we test on different target groups. In order to effectively bring new products and raw materials to the market, an important part is to practically test the product – to cook, test flavors and write recipes. And then test the results on different target groups for both commercial restaurants and for the public meal.

Results

The project has resulted in the product Braxenfärs (minced bream) which is produced on fish caught in Lake Mälaren and Lake Vänern. The fish has been given the green light in WWF’s fish guide, which means that it is fished on sustainable stocks and with sustainable methods. Axfoundation is now investigating the possibility of eco-labeling the raw material so that the consumer knows that the fish is fished in a sustainable and traceable way.

Braxenfärsen (minced bream) is a versatile product with a neutral, fine taste. The product has been used for testing dishes such as bream burgers, for both restaurants and school kitchens, and the results above exceeded expectations; positive reactions from both school students and chefs. The minced bream is already available for purchase for food service.

Minced bream is a versatile product with a neutral taste.

Minced bream is a versatile product with a neutral taste.

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