Most of a fish gets discarded

Norwegian company working with new technology to make use of entire byproduct from marine fishing.

Every year, 340,000 metric tons of usable whitefish byproduct are discarded into the sea, but the fishery industry has now identified ways of halting this practice.

The fishing company Nordic Wildfish has been assisting in the development of a new technology that can make use of the entire byproduct from whitefish such as cod, pollock and haddock.

Instead of discarding the heads, guts and the rest of the fish, they can all be incorporated into a hydrolysis process that separates the bones, leaving a kind of "soup" to which enzymes can be added and valuable oils and proteins extracted.

"The entire process takes place on board the trawler, which has only been at sea for two months," said Anders Bjornerem, research and development director at Nordic Wildfish in Norway. "No-one has done this before, and it's very exciting."

Non-sustainable food production

Nordic Wildfish is located on the island of Valderoya, west of Alesund, Norway, and has been working closely with the research company SINTEF for some time to promote technological development.

"As much as 92% of marine whitefish byproduct is not utilized," Bjornerem said.

"Commonly, it is only the fillets that are processed to become food. This is not sustainable food production. As we approach 2050, the demand for food on this planet will increase by as much as 70% due to high levels of population growth. The industry must make it its goal to utilize the entire fish," added Ana Karina Carvajal, research manager at SINTEF Fisheries & Aquaculture.

According to a report published by SINTEF in 2014, 340,000 mt of whitefish byproducts are discarded annually. SINTEF believes that this material has major commercial potential if it can be processed to produce high-quality end products such as ingredients in animal feed and food for human consumption.

On board the trawler Molnes, whitefish byproduct is processed using enzymatic hydrolysis to produce valuable proteins, amino acids and fish oils. Many technologies have been developed and adapted for installation on board the refurbished trawler.

"Excellent teamwork between researchers and the industry will enable many new systems for better exploitation of the fish to be implemented within the next two to four years," Carvajal said. "We're very pleased to see that some segments within the industry have already taken the first steps towards more sustainable food production."

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