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Bycatch waste being studied

THE Selinger government says it's funding research that could help reduce the widespread practice of wasting rough fish.

Millions of kilograms of edible fish are dumped on Manitoba lakes every year because there's either no market for them or the prices are too low to justify processing and shopping them. Increasing consumer awareness of this practice threatens the commercial viability of fish caught in Manitoba waters.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 
Some Manitoba fishers want to sell undesirable species without going through the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, which won�t buy them. These sucker fish are considered bycatch.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Some Manitoba fishers want to sell undesirable species without going through the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, which won�t buy them. These sucker fish are considered bycatch.

The province has launched an eco-certification effort in the hopes of reducing the bycatch in all of its fisheries. It will provide $90,000 in seed money for research into the export of roe taken from white sucker, the species commonly known as mullet.

"Wasting of fish is unacceptable in my view. It's wrong on ethical and ecological grounds," Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said Monday. "Mullet is the largest bycatch species. There is some good thinking that based on the success of marketing pike roe, there's optimism that could lead to other developments for mullet."

The Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation will work with food-development researchers in Portage la Prairie and federal export officials, Mackintosh said. They hope to figure out the best time to harvest mullet roe and how to handle eggs from the species, whose egg sacs are located close to their digestive tracts and thus are prone to contamination if the sacs are accidentally cut.

 

-- Kives

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 24, 2013 A3

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