September 30, 2019

Let Nothing Go to Waste

Full utilization of every fish isn’t just a positive environmental choice, it makes sound commercial sense too.

Unprecedented public scrutiny of the planet’s health is encouraging us all to be more mindful and responsible environmental citizens. At commercial levels, such contributions can take many forms, but in the seafood economy, one of the most obvious actions is to tackle natural resource depletion. One of the best ways to do this is to fully utilize the raw materials at our disposal.

Iceland Paves the Way

Fundamental to this principle is that a fish’s value doesn’t begin and end with a prime fillet. There’s much more to maximizing the yield of a fish than putting food on peoples’ plates. The remaining meat, carcass and organs are not waste; they can be utilized in a wide variety of other applications, and this means they have worth. Indeed, through these additional purposes, the incremental value of each fish caught or farmed can be dramatically increased.

With its natural abundance of fish and its inherent entrepreneurial spirit, Iceland is finds itself at the forefront of this fast-growing value-added space. A number of progressive companies have established a wide variety of applications for these by-products. As a result, alongside established supply chains such as trimmings going to fishmeal production, liver oil to the supplements sector, and dried heads and dried swim bladders providing traditional-style delicacies to African and Asian markets respectively, there are several uses for other by-products. In the case of fish skin, for example, these include leather goods, collagen powder and medical products, to name but a few.

Aiming for 100%

The 100% Fish Project, the brainchild of the Iceland Ocean Cluster, epitomizes the local mindset. It wants to inspire the industry to use more of each fish and in doing so elevate their value, while also supporting new business and employment opportunities.

Analysis conducted by the Cluster has found that Iceland is now utilizing more than 80% of every fish, compared to most other nations’ fisheries’ 50% use. It has also charted the rise of the country’s by-product application, finding that it has grown by around 3,000% in the last 25 years and has created some 700 direct jobs along the way. The annual value of the sector is now in excess of USD 500 million.

Technology is Leading the Way

Of course, these innovations require technology. It’s the pathway to commercial viability. In order for by-product specialists to make the most of raw materials, Skaginn 3X has developed several value-added solutions. Among the most widely applied is our advanced mince processing system for fish frames. Comprising customizable modules to fit in with each customer’s specific requirements, this system’s value comes in efficiently collecting the meat retained by carcasses after being processed by filleting machines.

In some cases, this meat can account for as much as 28% of the fish, so having such a practical solution opens up new possibilities. And if total utilization is the target, whereby every part of every fish is used for protein or other valuable products, it’s clear there’s still a great deal of untapped opportunity for processing pioneers both at home and overseas.

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