By-Product Development By-products from fish waste is an important development topic for the Alaska seafood industry. Alaska is one of the world's greatest producers of wild capture seafood. While there are a fair number of our fisheries that make use of fish waste through fishmeal plants or other processes, there are several notable areas and fisheries that are without any significant by-product recovery.
Salmon is one fishery that lacks alternative uses for most of its fish waste. This is a particular problem in certain areas of Alaska where fish waste accumulates to levels high enough enforcement actions by regulatory agencies. In the chum salmon fishery, where the main value is the roe, use of the carcasses, as required by the State's wanton waste law, creates difficulties for fishermen and processors. The roe is at its highest value when the fish are ready to spawn, but the quality of the flesh is much reduced at that point. Finding alternative uses for chum flesh, short of returning it back into the natural food chain, is an important challenge. Some progress has been made to date, but much remains to be done.
Current Alaska Production
Nonetheless, there are a number of fishmeal and fish oil operations in Alaska. In 2001, 62 facilities reported fishmeal production. The wholesale value of these operations was over $28 million. A significant portion of the fish meal production comes from groundfish operators, either at facilities in Dutch Harbor and Kodiak, or from at sea in factory trawlers. Compared to global production of fishmeal in 1999, Alaska's production of 41,700 metric tons (92 million pounds) was less than 1% of the entire world's supply. Alaska production of fish oil ranks similarly to relative to global fish oil production.
Our fisheries are geared for human consumption. Processing thus removes much of the nutrient value, leaving relatively low-nutrient waste. Therefore, achieving similar nutrient levels to those found in meal from whole fish reduction fisheries (sardines, anchovies, menhaden, herring, etc.) is difficult in Alaska waste-based fishmeal production.
Global reduction fisheries (those fisheries devoted to fishmeal and fish oil) produced 30.4 million metric tons in 1999, while the entire Alaska fishery produced less than 7% of that amount. The potential volume of material available for meal and other by-product production (after removing portions for human consumption and processing losses) is therefore quite limited when compared to the global reduction fishery.
Source: Office of Fisheries Development
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