Electrosedation and rested harvest as strategies to improve the quality of farm-raised fish
Traditional chemical sedatives for the processing of farm-raised fish are considered animal drugs that are subject to specific regulations and usage constraints (as well as chemical-bath disposal concerns). As an alternative, we propose to evaluate the use of mild, non-lethal electrosedation techniques to narcotize farm-raised fish in an effort to evaluate the technologys potential to reduce pre-harvest stress and enhance the quality and shelf life of farm-raised fish after harvest. Various electrosedation waveforms will be tested for physiological responses in farm-raised rainbow trout. Once the optimal protocol is determined, we will evaluate its effect on specific rested harvest criteria that include processing efficiency, product quality and post-harvest shelf life. In summary, we propose to identify an electrosedation protocol which elicits sedation of rainbow trout and minimizes stress levels. This protocol will then be evaluated on a larger scale in the context of rested harvest to determine whether processing efficiency, product quality, and shelf life can be improved through the use of rested harvest using electrosedation. Phase I research will be a "proof of concept" approach intended to verify that rainbow trout can be electrosedated, and that rested harvest using electrosedation will yield the desired improvements in fillet quality. Key milestones and outcomes will include regular reports of progress, publications in both general and science-based outlets, and presentations at symposia and conferences. Our intent is to generate information that will allow for the development of electrosedation equipment specifically intended for rested harvest processing protocols in Phase II. The proposed approach may improve animal welfare, as well as the logistical and economic operations of U.S.-held fish farms. Furthermore, and given the extensive culture of salmonids throughout the world, the results (Phase I) and equipment generated (Phase II) will very likely be applicable in a broad context in both the U.S. and abroad. Development of technologies to improve the quantity and quality of farm-raised seafood (without the use of chemical sedatives) also addresses National Institute of Food and Agriculture-related societal needs that include global food security and food safety.
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