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Development of multi-sensor techniques for monitoring the quality of fish


To devise a multi-sensor method for rapid monitoring of fish quality. This involves the following sub-objectives:

1. To ascertain the needs of the fish industry for quality determinations of fresh and frozen fish.
2. To consult with industry and the regulatory authorities on the type of measuring instruments needed.
3. To evaluate the ability of simultaneous measurements of several physical properties of fish to determine and monitor the quality of fish.
4. To provide a basis for construction of prototype multi-sensor instruments.
5. To disseminate the results of the project and pursue the exploitation of the instruments.
Evaluation of several physico-chemical techniques for monitoring the quality of fish (visible light spectroscopy, electrical properties, image analysis, colour, electronic noses and texture). Integration of the outputs of the techniques into a robust estimate of the freshness quality of fish Calibrating the integrated techniques with sensory scores of Quality Index Method (QIM) for attributes: appearance, odour and texture. Obtaining an Artificial Quality Index (AQI) that can be as accurate and precise as the QIM sensory score. The outcome provides a basis for the construction and industrial exploitation of multi-sensor-devices for defining the quality of fish. Participants 01, 02, 03, 05 and 06 are pursuing commercialisation of the devices developed in the project. Participants 01, 04 and 07 are pursuing industrial implementation of the QIM scales developed in the project.
Overall Methodology which is to be employed in order to fulfil the objectives.
The work (representing the total effort of approximately 200 man-months) will primarily involve applying already known physical measuring principles rather than developing new physical methods for evaluating the quality of fish. The existing measuring methods will be consolidated so that the various apparatus can be brought together to make simultaneous measurements. This means that the apparatus has to be made portable and the output signals from the various devices made compatible with each other so that the data emanating from the various sensors can be recorded by a common interface and analysed. The statistical analysis and multi-sensor data fusion are expected to break new ground in evaluation the quality of fish and could lead to substitution of present statistical and data fusion method. The participant No. 6 is a member of an Italian National Committee on Multi-sensor Data Fusion and cultivates awareness of the new development that would be useful for the present project.

The work, although mainly scientific and technical in character, will involve consultations with the industry in order to apply the scientific results in the most effective way and to facilitate commercial exploitation. These consultations will not be limited to the enterprises that expressed interest in the original proposal. The list of enterprises supporting the project will be revised so that the most meaningful collaboration can take place with both the fish processing industry and potential manufacturers of the multisensor devices. Due to the need for focusing the project, it is intended to limit the scope to the white fish industry. The fish processing represented will be the assessment of the quality of the raw material (whole fish) and of gutted fish and fillets, both for farmed and fish caught in the "wild". It is expected that at least three fish processing enterprises will be approached in each participating country and at least one potential manufacturer of the devices in each country. Thant amounts to28 industrial contacts.

The tasks to fulfil the sub-objectives 1 and 2 will be to assure that the project is relevant to the needs of the fish industry to measure the quality of fish by objective and rapid instrumental methods. The companies supporting the project will be asked to fill in a questionnaire about the needs for measurement of quality of fish. In particular, it will be necessary to determine the relative emphasis on fresh as opposed to frozen fish.

To fulfil the sub-objective 3, the various instruments available at the participating laboratories will be developed to be portable and rugged for use in the field (e.g. fish market) and capable of being integrated with each other (i.e. producing comparable electrical output signals that can be evaluated in unison employing statistical projection or multi-sensor fusion). The combined power of the instruments will be determined in joint field measurements where the various quality attributes will be measured simultaneously on the same fish by all instruments. This crucial and novel step will provide information on the relative sensitivity of the various instruments to fish quality attributes in various stages of processing. This information will in turn be used to formulate the design of suitable multi-sensor devices.

The next stage of the work-programme will be to provide a basis for progressing from the laboratory type of instruments to instruments that can be used in the industrial environment (sub-objective 4). The intention is not to attempt to build the multi-sensor devices within the frame of the project (viewed as over-ambitious) but to concentrate on generating a dialogue with electronic or similar companies on what the configuration in terms of sensors and the specification of the devices for various scenarios could be.

Task 3, necessary for achieving the sub-objective 4, is primarily to use the expert knowledge of the partners and the results of Task 2 in combination with the knowledge existing in the fish industry and in electronic companies (already marketing for example electronic noses and electronic fish freshness meters) to decide on the most appropriate devices for industrial use. The aim of Task 3 is to encourage the industry towards the goal of constructing suitable prototypes.

Task 4 will also contribute to meeting the objective 5. However, the dissemination activity under Task 4 is general (as opposed to the specific interaction with the industry directed towards commercial exploitation) and is therefore detailed separately from Task 3.

Advances that the project will make
- Bringing together the above methods simultaneously to determine the freshness and quality of the same fish. This is a novel step, because so far each method has been compared singly with the sensory reference method, preventing the application of powerful statistical projection methods of analysis.

- Developing specifications for the type of instruments required by industry and the regulatory authorities.

- Developments in sensor technology, microprocessor power and advances in multi-sensor fusion theory will prepare the basis for the formulation of prototype devices that will be able to give a much more reliable estimate of the quality of fish than has been possible previously.


1. Consultation with the fish industry and the regulatory authorities on the type of device needed
1.1. Identifying at which Critical Points (CPs) along the fish processing/distribution chain Measurements of fish quality are needed.
1.2 Determining current practices and requirements for measuring quality at the CPs.

2. Simultaneous evaluation of physical methods for monitoring the quality of fish.
2.1 Preparing for simultaneous evaluation of physical methods.
2.2 Simultaneous application of physical methods.
2.3. Analysing the results obtained in sub-task 2.2.

3. Developing a basis for assisting the industry in constructing prototype multi-sensor instruments
3.1 Considering the ways of combining the various sensors to fulfil the need for various quality measurements in the fish processing industry.
3.2 Recommendations to and collaboration with the industry and manufacturers.

4. Dissemination of the results of the project and pursuing commercial exploitation of the results of the project.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Robert Gordon University
St Andrews Street
AB25 1HG Aberdeen
United Kingdom

Participants (6)

Bundesforschungsanstalt fur Fischerei
9,Palmaille 9
22767 Hamburg
S/n,ciudad Universitaria S/n
28040 Madrid
Danish Institute for Fisheries Research
Soltofts Plads, C/o Technical University Of Denmark, Bygning 221
2800 Lyngby
Skúlagata 4
University Campus Breivika
Via Di Tor Vergata 110
00133 Roma