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Peter Howgate

R.I.P Peter Frederick Howgate, OBE

Seafood Safety Specialist – Expert in sensory assessment of fishery products; quality and quality assurance of fishery products; post harvest handling and processing of fish

Sadly, I learned recently of the passing of Peter Howgate.

Peter was well-known for sharing his skills and knowledge initially from being involved in research at the famous Torry Research Station, Aberdeen, and for his involvement in recent years through the Seafood HACCP Discussion electronic mailing list, among other groups.

People like Peter have played a crucial role in the development of the seafood industry. What a charming man; someone who simply loved what he did and was a mentor to so many through various groups and connections – he was always prepared to share. The history and knowledge that he carried was invaluable to so many people and, if you are a member of one of the groups that Peter engaged with, you will recognize from the various emails and comments the influence that he had, and will appreciate the gap that his departure will cause.

Following his achievement of qualifications in chemistry at University in Liverpool in 1953, Peter worked in the chemical industry in England until joining Torry Research Station in May 1955. While working there he participated in and led various research and development projects in fish processing technology, ultimately specializing in quality assurance of fish and fishery products. Research activities in this field included: development of methods for measurement of quality by sensory, chemical and physical methods; measurement of storage lives of chilled, frozen, and pre-packed products; study of sensory properties of fish and fishery products and the effects of storage and processing on sensory properties; and the investigation of the tainting of fish by pollutants in the aquatic environment.

Other activities he was involved in included: advising national and international bodies on regulations concerning the quality of fishery products and on official inspection of fish products; advising industry on quality assurance of fish products; advising companies on meeting quality objectives; inspecting and testing consignments of fish and inspecting factories; as well as training of personnel in assessment of quality of fish. He was Head of the Quality Studies Section at the time of my retirement in December 1989, reportedly as Grade 7, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

It has been said that Peter was instrumental in helping to establish Torry as one of, if not the, leading global institution in fish processing and quality (until it was weakened and finally closed down by poor government decisions).

He was a member of the GESAMP Working Group on Evaluation of the Hazards of Substances Carried by Ships from 1986 until 1996, and was a member of the Working Group on the Review of the Impact of Oil in the Marine Environment. Peter’s role was to advise on the effects of pollutants, including petroleum, on commercial fisheries, particularly on impacts regarding the consumption quality of fish and shellfish. He carried out commissions for companies in Britain, advising on aspects of quality and quality assurance of fishery products, and acted as a technical surveyor for insurance companies in connection with disputes involving the quality of cargoes of frozen fish carried in reefers. In addition to project work, Peter prepared reports on aspects of fish processing and on quality assurance and inspection of fishery projects for international agencies.

Peter was honored with the award of an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the ‘New Year's Honours List’ of 1990. He was one of the Deputy Editors of the International Journal of Food Science and Technology from July 1998 to December 2002. In addition, he has acted as a referee for papers for publication in several journals associated with food science.

After the Torry years, Peter carried out many consultancies, working for UN agencies in Africa, South America and the Far East. He saved a good part of the Torry library, and most recently he created FishTechDB, an online bibliographical database of topics related to fish technology. The database is now available as a public service to the global seafood community via Seafood Network Information Centre.

His name will continue to live on through the Peter Howgate Award, an activity that has been in operation for a few years through International Association of Fish Inspectors. The award funds the attendance (travel, accommodation and registration) of a young fish technologist (under 30 years of age) to the biennial IAFI World Seafood Congress. For those interested in applying, the award is open to anyone presently employed in any relevant position involving fish technology from any country. Relevant positions include commercial fishery sector, and research or inspection roles. For more information on the award, please email megapesca@mail.telepac.pt or go to http://www.peterhowgateaward.com. Note that application deadline is 31 March, 2017.

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