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New research project will help turn wasted fish into food and feed

New research will investigate how fish heads, tails and skins are not wasted.

When eating a flounder or any other type of fish, a large part of the fish gets thrown out or made into animal feed.

A new European research project called WaSeaBi will help turn residues from the fishing industry, into useful resources. According to Professor Charlotte Jacobsen from DTU Food Institute, who is in charge of the project, they must among other things examine whether the residual products can turn into new foods.

– We have a growing population that we need to produce more food for, so we have to find out what challenges the fishing industry faces in terms of being able to use fish residues to make new ingredients.

At European level, about one and a half million tonnes of residual products can be used better every year. Although it can be used as a feed for mink, for example, it is a low value product. – One of the challenges is to ensure that the whole fish is treated as if it was a feedstock from the start. When you have considered the head, tail and skin as a waste product, you have not taken care of it in the right way, says Charlotte Jacobsen.

In addition to looking at the logistical challenges, new technologies will also be able to make new products from the residual products. The researchers focus especially on protein that can be used in food and bioactive peptides that can be used in both dietary supplements, food and feed.

Resources must be used in a sustainable manner

Both the industry, researchers and other stakeholders around Europe are part of the project. According to Dorthe Storper, who is part of the project and director of the Knowledge Center for Food Development in Holstebro, Denmark, it is important to focus on the whole process from the sea to the table.

– You have to look at what happens to the fish, from the time it gets caught, and until we have a fish on the dinner table, says the director.

Professor Charlotte Jacobsen from DTU Food Institute also sees great perspectives in the project.

– In relation to the huge amount of fish we catch, it can give a great deal if, on average, half of the fish are used for new ingredients.