Dr.Lucas Reply to Ministers’ Ideas on Ensilage and Water Quality in the Swamp

The Editor

Barbados Underground


Dear Sir/Madam,

Recently, there was an article aired in the media concerning the utilization of fish by ensilaging techniques. According to Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, “between 30 and 70 per cent of fish caught by local fishermen is currently being wasted”. The project, entitled the “Fish Waste Silage” project is aimed “at transforming parts of the fish which currently go to waste into perfectly safe, nutritious products for human and livestock consumption”. “We are not catching enough fish.  And even though we are not catching enough fish, a lot of what we do catch is wasted . . . they say up to 30 to 70 per cent of every fish is wasted in Barbados and that is” ….. said Humphrey, who added “that a large percentage of the fish caught was thrown back into the nearshore, polluting the waters around the island and creating an environmental hazard”. Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir added that the production of feed from fish could yield tremendous benefits for farmers struggling to make ends meet, given the high cost of imported feed for their livestock (New use for discarded fish .Barbados Today, February 1, 2019).

All I could do was laugh, as judging by the muddled statements above, one is left unsure of what exactly the minister wants to convey to the public. Is he saying that the dressing out percentage (DOP) of fish which have been gutted, skinned and so on, is between 30-70 percent of the original weight of the undressed fish? Or is he saying that between 30-70 percent of the catch is so-called trash fish? It is instructive to note that the actual tonnage of fish caught is not given. Is he talking about 30-70 percent of 100,000 tons or is the figure 5,000 tons? In any event, according (Barlow, S.M. Fish meal manufacture in the tropics: Proceedings of the Conference on the Handling,Processing and Marketing of Tropical Fish, Tropical Product Institute, London, 5th.-9th. June 1976, p223-237):“ it is necessary to have a realistic estimate of the raw material which will be available to the factory and its seasonality. This will have an important effect on the economics of a fish meal operation and the type and capacity of the plant required.” These were profound words then and now. I am not sure about the throwing back into sea of fish; is he referring to the local fishermen whose boats are not that big anyhow or to the Japanese and Chinese factory ships?

Let me start by saying that my doctoral thesis was in the field of fermented sausages. (Department of Chemical Engineering, St. Augustine, UWI. Trinidad,1980). Ensilaging of fish waste is a fermented procedure. In either instance,fermentation can be effected by the addition of organic acid or by the the use of lactic-acid bacteria. In the latter case, a pure culture of the desired strain of lactic-acid bacteria(L. plantarum) is used. A homo-fermentative strain is required ( that is a strain which produces lactic acid as apart from a hetero-fermentative which produces lactic acid and carbon dioxide for obvious reasons).In both instances, there is a need to effect a rapid decrease in the pH of the sausage dough or the fish waste. A pH value of 4.3 is normally adequate enough to preclude the growth and elaboration of toxins by pathogens. The process depends basically on the lactic acid or added organic acid creating conditions hostile to the growth of micro-organisms. What the minister is talking about is nothing new. I have written numerous letters to press about using fermentation techniques to obtain animal rations. On the 10th.August 1994, in a letter to the Advocate entitled : “True sustainability”, I outlined ways of converting so-called trash fish into surimi (a fish product that is bland and can be kept frozen for a long time without becoming rancid,that is used in imitation crab and so on). I also outlined the process in a paper (Lucas, R. D. 2005. “A Preliminary Sensory Evaluation Of Fish Burgers And Breakfast Sausages Made From king Fish(Scomberomorns cavalla)Surimi In Grenada, West Indies.” Proceedings of The First Biennial Science and Technology Symposium, Barbados National Council For Science And Technology,March 8-9th. Pp 38-40).


Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.,CFS

Certified Food Scientist.

10 thoughts on “Dr.Lucas Reply to Ministers’ Ideas on Ensilage and Water Quality in the Swamp

  1. Always refreshing to read somebody who knows what they are actually talking about.
    For decades , ministers of the BLPDLP have paraded in public , their acute ignorance matters they do not fully grasp.

  2. For decades, the BU BARKERS, BRIMBLERS AND BRAYERS have paraded in public , their acute ignorance matters they do not fully grasp. uh lie?

  3. You blp yardfowls have talked about transparency for ten yesrs but when the issue of accountabilty and transparency comes knocking at the blp doors
    The hue and cry of not wanting to be bother comes rushing out the doors
    Bunch of two faced hypocrites

  4. In the interest of full disclosure note there is no evidence the potable water in Barbados has been compromised as posted elsewhere on the blog. It would be useful if the authority responsible for testing water quality posted the results for public viewing.

  5. Well done Dr. Lucas………… pity successive governments always gravitate to ‘outside experts’ only …. and when they do go to our local pool, its solely political scientists, economists & historians from UWI.

    We have a large number of highly educated citizens, active & retired, that should be utilized by Ministers …. each Minister should form an Advisory Board consisting of local expertise to give them sound advice on matters……. use our scientists, engineers, doctors, etc…… many would assist without fees!

  6. Wilys confused, some will say what’s new, but I do not see one mention of the swamp in the article. Wily was reading with intusism as he was expecting to see that government minister or other has declared the swamp pure and clean, fish healthy(those that have survied turd-itis) etc etc.

    “Sewage problem solved” AH YES WHAT CRAP, pardon the pun. Effluent(raw) still being discharged out to sea via the bypass pipe etc, etc. SHIT not presently flowing in the street does not mean the problem is solved, just means a lot of political grandstanding. It’s time for some presentation and long-term study of the swamp, swamp flora and fauna, sewage effluent outflow causation, etc etc. And the biggy, what exactly was the sewage PROBLEM, CAUSATION AND LONG TERM CURE AND CORRECTIVE ACTION.

  7. Posting Minister Abrahams promise made this wee.

    Secondary treatment to waste from the Bridgetown plant will be a reality. The waste water will be fit for domestic use.

    We wait in hope!

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