Fish waste for profit

25 Sep 2014
The conference focused on utilising the whole fish

The conference focused on utilising the whole fish

Fish waste for profit – maximising return: utilising the entire fish, the first IceFish Conference held on the first day of the Icelandic Fisheries Exhibition, provided delegates with a fascinating insight into the many products can be made from previously discarded parts of fish.

Thor Sigfusson, Managing Director of the Iceland Ocean Cluster (Sjavarklasinn) and Sigurjon Arason, Chief Engineer at MATIS opened the conference, which was held in association with MATIS.

Some of these products can be sold for very high prices. Fish skin, for example, as well as being turned into leather for belts, wallets, even whole garments, can also be used for medical bandages with a price tag of $150 per kg. Indeed one speaker said: ‘Give me the skin and throw the rest [of the fish] out!’

Prices for dried heads, bones and the liver of the fish were said to be approaching the price of fillets taken from cod and there were ‘huge opportunities’ in other industries for so-called fish by-products. To achieve these high prices, of course, the appropriate technology and logistics had to be available and the by-products had to be stored under the correct conditions and be cooled properly and bled on board the fishing vessels and kept cold on shore.

And this was posed problems. There to be space available for storing fish heads, for example, when all the available space on board was devoted to what had always been considered the main products.

Another relevant point made was that fishermen had to be financially compensated for bringing in these ‘new’ products which, since many of them were not yet mainstream products, was not always possible.

While the morning was devoted to whitefish, mostly cod, of course because of the importance of cod to the Icelandic fisheries industry, the afternoon sessions were devoted to pelagic farmed fish species and here Norwegian speakers told the delegates how more of this raw material was going to direct human consumption rather than to aquaculture or animal feed.

Farmed salmon seemed to be the ultimate in making the most use of the fish where only the blood is currently being discarded. The omega-3 industry was the biggest alternative use for farmed fish.

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