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SMART TAG PROJECT -Delivering Freshness- Presented by Mark K Buckley Digital Observer LLC, Kodiak March 5, 2003 2nd Annual Business of SeaFOOD Forum Anchorage,

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Presentation on theme: "SMART TAG PROJECT -Delivering Freshness- Presented by Mark K Buckley Digital Observer LLC, Kodiak March 5, 2003 2nd Annual Business of SeaFOOD Forum Anchorage,"— Presentation transcript:

1 SMART TAG PROJECT -Delivering Freshness- Presented by Mark K Buckley Digital Observer LLC, Kodiak March 5, nd Annual Business of SeaFOOD Forum Anchorage, Alaska

2 2 Funded in by USDA through the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Kodiak Fishery Industrial Technology Center (2003 funding includes Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation)

3 3 Objectives: QUALITY ASSURANCE AND BRANDING Fishermen attach sturdy, waterproof data loggers (“tags”) to fish at point of catch. Tags programmed with fisherman’s, processor’s, buyer’s names. Tags record temperatures at programmed intervals. Tags stay on the fish through to “outside” market. Tag readout assures market of fish quality and provenance.

4 4 Why? Alaska’s wild salmon industry is in a crisis. Prices have plummeted and there is no sign they will rebound. Fish farmers are producing high quality, low-cost salmon that have become the market standard. Clearly, Alaska’s industry needs to change to compete. A vertical study of ‘quality’ fish might provide some answers.

5 5 How does the market define “Quality?” threeQuality is comprised of three factors, all working together to minimize the buyer’s risk 1. Appearance--45% (Mark’s number) External appearance  Does the fish look ocean bright? Are its scales in place? Has it never been mangled and abused? Does it smell fresh? Internal Appearance  Is the flesh continuous (no ‘gaping’) unbruised and evenly- colored? Will any need to be cut away before sale?

6 6 How does the market define “Quality?” (2) threeQuality is comprised of three factors, all working together to minimize the buyer’s risk 2. Shelf Life--45% (Mark’s number) How long can I hold this fish before I need to drop its price to move it, process it into a lower valued product, or in the worst case scenario, throw it out?

7 7 How does the market define “Quality?” (3) three Quality is comprised of three factors, all working together to minimize the buyer’s risk 3. Taste & “dining experience” 10% Most Alaska seafood is bought by wholesalers and distributors who want to turn the fish around quickly. How a particular fish tastes, while important, is usually not their highest priority.

8 8 Smart Tag, 2002 Waterproof to 1,000 feet. Reusable, battery lasts 5 years. Can take temperature once every 30 min for 667 days. Programmed & read by infrared coupler.

9 Research plan Tags deployed in selected fisheries (CR gillnet salmon, BB gillnet salmon, SE troll salmon and Kodiak halibut). Fishermen tag 5-6 fish in one trip. Tags followed through processing plants, into shipping boxes and air freight system. Tags received & data downloaded in Chicago by Plitt Fish, the region’s largest fresh seafood distributor.

10 10 Processing Gillnet/ Seine Fish Each fish handled 20 + times by people, several times by machines. More handling affects fish appearance. Fish warm up as they pass through the plant--on warm days the water can exceed 50º F. Once fish warm, it is hard to cool them again.

11 11 Processing Troll Salmon Each fish handled 6 times by people, never by machines. Less handling affects fish appearance. Fish stay cool as they pass through the plant--typically going from ice to ice in a short time. Temperature stability enhances shelf life.

12 12 Tag Readout Example

13 13 Copper River readout

14 14 BB Drift readout

15 15 BB Setnet readout

16 16 SE Hand Troll readout

17 17 SE Power Troll readout

18 18 Plitt’s Feedback Each year loses ~$70,000 because air shipped fish arrive spoiled. Quality at the receiving dock is a no-brainer-- Appearance (including smell) and Shelf Life. Rejected Bristol Bay salmon because were caught in-river. Wants ocean-bright & no gillnet marks. Usually buys salmon from a Seattle broker who keeps fish origins to himself. Cost is very important. Customers will almost always buy on price.

19 19 Practical Lessons Learned Reward system needs to be developed for tag return/reporting. Tags too often become separated from fish; need better means of attachment. Seafood process workers in Alaska plants need to be educated about the tags. When they see a tagged fish they put it aside, not knowing what to do with it. Due to the likelihood at least some shipments will be left in the sun, shipping boxes should be white, not brown. Data management can be daunting. Need better software. Bar code labeling of boxes would help manage info.

20 20 Conclusions Chilling fish early--and keeping them chilled--is a very good start. Reduced fish handling can lead to higher quality. Merely certifying that fish are ‘quality’ when they leave an Alaska plant is not good enough. The fish have a long way to go to market, and many things can go wrong en route.

21 Research goals Repeat 2002 samples to obtain more data points for statistical validity. Experiment with different brand of tags--less expensive. Experiment with insulation in fresh shipments. Develop better system to attach tags to fish. Photograph and swab each fish on boat and in plant. Hire Chicago lab to handle tags, photos bacteria swabs. Microbiology labs provide plate counts.

22 22 Long term goals Develop a “blame-free” quality assurance program that encourages responsibility among all fish handlers. Give buyers confidence that fish are ‘quality’ products. Customers know where fish came from. Higher quality, better information = better fish prices.

23 SMART TAG PROJECT -Delivering Freshness- Questions? Digital Observer LLC Box 649 Kodiak, AK V; F;


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