‘HealthBurger’ popularity crashes…steamed like anchovies in shoaling nightmare

Intensive catching since mid-June
With a massive influx of sardines expected off the coast of Changwon, Gyeongnam, the government and local authorities have decided to catch and commercialize them in advance. This is to prevent the ‘sardine shoal death’ that has turned the coast into a stinking den.

According to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Gyeongnam Province, and Changwon City on Tuesday, the organizations discussed measures against the sardine die-off on the 25th. In the month of October last year, 226 tons of sardine carcasses died in Changwon’s Jinhae Bay (including Masan Bay) alone, causing residents in the city center and tourist areas to suffer from a foul odor.

A school of sardines that died in October last year around Masan Bay in Changwon, Gyeongnam. Yonhap News Agency
The agencies plan to first capture young sardines (around 5 centimeters in length), which have a high commodity value, for primary processing and then sell them. Like dried anchovies for soup, young sardines are said to sell for about 20,000 won per kilogram when dried after being cured and steamed.

The government is also considering canning or freezing adult sardines that are 15 centimeters or longer. For this, they are in talks with local processors. Gyeongnam Province plans to start catching sardines after mid-June in consultation with the gillnet and coastal trawling industry, which can catch sardines in Tongyeong, Geoje, Sacheon, Goseong, Namhae, and Changwon.

However, the price of sardines grown to adulthood after June is about 9,000 won per 1.5 kilograms, making them less marketable. This means they are likely to be used for feed. “We will continue to find ways to efficiently utilize sardine resources by discussing with local processors,” said an official from Gyeongnam-do. “Even if a mass death occurs, relevant agencies will collaborate and quickly collect them for feed or incineration.”

Sardines, once a ‘favorite fish’…even a hamburger recipe

Sardines, which were rarely caught in the East Sea in the 1970s, have become abundant and are being caught at Busan Port. [Central Photo]
This is not the first time sardines have been commercialized in Korea스포츠토토. Although sardines seemed to have disappeared from Korea in the 2000s, they were once a “filial fish” that fed fishermen by catching more than 1 million tons. In 1937, Korea even recorded the largest sardine catch in history with 1.38 million tons.

In the 1930s, before liberation, when domestic sardine catches were high, sardines were fried or stewed, according to Sugwawon.

From the 1940s onward, sardine catches decreased significantly, but they gradually increased again in the 1970s and surged in the 1980s. In 1983, there was an article titled “Sardine catch of 109,000 tons at the end of June, the “largest” since the liberation of the sardine harvest.” in 1983. In 1987, 194,000 tons were caught and sold as canned and other processed foods.

An article titled “10 Sardine Health Burgers” on page 13 of Maeil Business on March 17, 1988. [Photo by Naver News Library].
The following year, 1988, there was even a recipe for a sardine health burger. The Korean Food and Life Development Research Institute introduced a burger made with a sardine patty mixed with soy protein, onions, eggs, natural seasonings, and spices. Sardines are considered a healthy food because they are high in protein, vitamin D, and omega fatty acids.

A jagged catch…can it be commercialized?
Sardines are so popular overseas that they are even eaten as spaghetti in Italy. However, in Korea, it was difficult to commercialize sardines consistently as the catch fluctuates every 20 to 30 years. In fact, the catch has decreased every year since the 1990s, and in 2006, the catch reached ‘ZERO’ (0t), and sardines disappeared again.

Sardines. [Centerfold]
After a period of stagnation, the catch rose again to 2,400 tons in 2011 and reached 8,100 tons in 2017. Last year, when a large-scale outbreak occurred, 12,000 tons were caught. “It is a research issue that domestic sardine catches change significantly on a decades-long cycle,” said an official at the Fisheries Research Institute, adding, “I understand that Japan is also discussing ways to re-commercialize sardines after a surge in catches that had not been seen for a while.”

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