Let Them Eat Fish! Exploring the Possibility of Utilising Unwanted Catch

Published open access in Foods’ special issue on ‘Challenging the Status Quo to Shape Food Systems Transformation from a Nutritional and Food Security Perspective‘ in November 2021. View full text here.


Let Them Eat Fish! Exploring the Possibility of Utilising Unwanted Catch in Food Bank Parcels in The Netherlands


The Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union was reformed in 2013 with the aim of improving the sustainability of the fishing sector. The Landing Obligation, a cornerstone of this reform, requires fishers to land their unwanted catch instead of discarding it at sea. Existing literature pays little attention to what becomes of this unwanted catch once it is landed. To further the discourse on the sustainable valorisation of unwanted catch, this study explores whether unwanted catch that is safe for human consumption could be used for improving food security. The paper focuses on Dutch food banks, which deliver critical food aid to over 160,000 individuals yearly but struggle to provide all dependant recipients with nutritionally balanced food parcels. The research question is addressed in two ways. The food bank recipients’ willingness to consume UWC is evaluated quantitatively through a survey. Next to this, data from interviews with relevant stakeholders are analysed qualitatively. Results indicate that the Food Bank Foundation and its recipients are willing to receive this fish if it is safe to consume and accessible. However, various factors such as existing infrastructure, lack of economic incentive to donate, competition from non-food and black markets, and the fishing industry’s conflict with the landing obligation might pose barriers to this kind of valorisation. The dissonance between fisheries, food, and sustainability policies is discussed and identified as a key limiting factor. To bridge the differences between these policy areas, we propose public-private partnerships and voluntary agreements among involved stakeholders.


Rao, M., Bilić, L., Duwel, J., Herentrey, C., Lehtinen, E., Lee, M., Díaz Calixto, M.A., Bast, A. and de Boer, A., 2021. Let Them Eat Fish!—Exploring the Possibility of Utilising Unwanted Catch in Food Bank Parcels in The Netherlands. Foods10(11), p.2775.


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