EU - Promising opportunities for fish by-products - New Food Magazine

Today, the world discards over 10 million metric tons of perfectly good fish by-product. Thor Sigfússon proffers achievable ways to solve this waste problem by building a more resilient seafood industry through a circular system.

Icelandic fisheries have evolved strategies and techniques to draw revenue from many by-products of fish. In most parts of the world, these ‘other products’ of fish are still treated as waste. Studies by the Iceland Ocean Cluster (IOC) indicate that Iceland uses 90 percent of each fish, while most fishing nations use around 50-55 percent. Yet ambition remains high for the leading fisheries in Iceland who have announced their aim is to utilise 100 percent of the fish.

The mission of 100 percent fish

The mission of the 100 percent fish utilisation movement initiated by the IOC is to inspire the seafood industry and seafood communities to utilise more of each fish, increase the value of each fish landed, support new business opportunities, increase employment and

decrease waste. Iceland is a great example of what can be achieved with greater fish utilisation; the use of more by-products in the Icelandic fisheries (which increased by around 3,000 percent in the last 30 years) has led to an independent industry that has created at least 1,000 direct jobs and an annual value in excess of $300 million. Many of these jobs are in coastal towns in rural areas.

The unique role which the IOC has played in the Icelandic fishing industry is to take a bottom‑up approach by nurturing startups. The Ocean Cluster House (ocean accelerator), a facility that houses over 70 companies, comprises a large group of entrepreneurs starting new companies in this field. We are seeing a massive number of new startups in Iceland being created in the blue economy (sustainable use of ocean resources). The IOC has contributed significantly to this trend, bringing more investors into this field and investing in startups itself.

Furthermore, the Ocean Cluster network was integral to taking the 100 percent fish mission to the global stage. This network consists of ocean cluster organisations in the US, Iceland and Europe, whose aim is to strengthen innovation in seafood and encourage full utilisation of seafood products. The HÚS in Portland, Maine, is operated by our sister cluster, The New England Ocean Cluster. This facility is designed and operated in line with the Ocean Cluster House in Reykjavik. Its success proves that bringing blue startups together in one location can and will be highly beneficial.

Getting more from fish

Various projects which aim to use more of whitefish, salmon and shellfish are underway among ocean clusters within the Ocean Cluster Network, ranging from creating skincare products with whitefish skins to deriving protein from lobster shells.

Read more.