Getting more value out of the fish

Some parts of a cod are of far more value than the fillet and these should be treated carefully on board and brought ashore for processing. This was the message from the inaugural Icelandic Fisheries Conference, “Fish waste for profit,” held at the Smárinn Fundarsalur (Convention Centre) in Kópavogur, on the outskirts of Reykjavik, on 25 September.

“Give me the skin and throw the rest [of the fish] out,” said keynote speaker Thor Sigfusson, managing director of the Iceland Ocean Cluster. Cod skin can be used for pet food, for the production of collagen, fish leather, even medical bandages, he told delegates. At each stage of the value chain, the price rose until it reached USD 150 (EUR 118) per kilogram for bandages.

Sigfusson said there was potential for dried cod products. In Iceland the dried head and bones were exported, and better use was made of the liver than in other countries. This increased the average value of a 5 kg cod from USD 15 (EUR 12) to USD 20 (EUR 16).

Cod should have two livers not just one because of the products that can be made from it, Sigurjón Arason, chief engineer of Matís, told delegates. Canned liver and cod liver oil fetched high prices, he said. As a result space was reserved on board the catching vessel for storing cod livers, but otherwise there was a lack of space and manpower for preserving so-called by-products on board.

Storage facilities need to be increased and the “waste” cooled properly and brought ashore in good condition.

Sigrún Mjöll Halldórsdóttir, project manager, Division of Biotechnology and Biomolecules of Matís, described the bioactive substances found in marine by-products that are often discarded at sea. He said it is now possible to produce extremely valuable products from this material and gave as an example fish protein, which acts to lower blood pressure, as being worth USD 1,000 (EUR 789) per kilogram.

While the omega-3 content of fish oil is very well known, he said, proteins, peptides, and enzymes from the guts generally don’t get any recognition at all.

Fish protein hydrolsates have great potential in human food and supplements, Ola Flesland, R&D group manager of TripleNine, told delegates. In addition to lowering blood pressure, they can regulate blood sugar, slow down sarcopenia (muscle wastage) and suppress appetite.

They also have anti-oxidative, anti-cancer, antimicrobal and antiviral activities, he said.

Guðbjörg Heiða Guðmundsdóttir, project manager, Marel, pointed out that there needs to be a high enough volume to make the processing of by-products feasible. She reiterated that the skin of cod was more valuable than the loin, but said that the skin only accounted for 3 percent of the fish.

Marel is concentrating on obtaining more value from the main product, the fillet, and there had been an improvement in its yield from 58 percent in the 1980s to 80 percent in 2006.

Not surprisingly, aquaculture is regarded a major provider of raw material for the production of marine ingredients. According to Roger Richardsen, senior advisor, SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture, Norway’s marine ingredients industry has grown substantially during the past decade and now represents a NOK 8-9 billion (USD 1.2-1.4 billion, EUR 0.95-1.10 billion) business.

The development of salmon oil into feed, human nutrition, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications is the fastest growing segment in the marine ingredients sector, he said.

According to Fridik Sigurdsson, partner in INAQ AS, blood is the only part of a farmed salmon not currently used, and it is a sizeable resource with 1-3 million salmon producing 30,000 metric tons (MT) of blood.

There is increased interest in Norway on the total utilization of the fish caught and harvested, and approximately 300,000 MT of material are available for the production of marine by-products.

However, Sigurdsson pointed out, and this was the general consensus at the conference, to succeed and increase the utilization of marine by-products, it is essential to ensure high quality from catching/harvesting to processing, and to ensure cost effective and correct production/processing methods are used.

In addition, it is essential to research potential markets to determine what is required.

The Icelandic Fisheries Conference was organized by Mercator Media and the program was put together in conjunction with Matís, an Icelandic government owned but independent company which carries out research and development in the food and biotechnology industries.


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