Fish by-products account for a considerable amount of waste in our province, with much of the material simply being dumped in the landfill or ocean or used as fish feed or pet food where possible.
However, through bioprocessing and biorefinery there is an opportunity to generate more beneficial uses for these often discarded parts.
While biorefinery and bioprocessing (ways in which to extract important factors from the by-products) are still new concepts to a very large part of the world, research into these promising approaches is ongoing world-wide, including here at home.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the marine bio-processing research team at the Fisheries and Marine Institute’s Centre for Aquaculture and Seafood Development (CASD) is working on several scale-up projects focused on bioprocessing and biorefinery.
The work is valued at $1.2 million over three years and is focused on the extraction and purification of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and eco energy for the benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador’s fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
In partnership with several industry partners, federal and provincial funding agencies and researchers within Memorial University’s department of biochemistry and faculty of engineering, as well as Dalhousie University, the research is being conducted within CASD’s 3,200-square foot marine bio-processing lab and pilot plant which is equipped with various lab and pilot-scale processing equipment.
Proteins and oils from fish and shellfish processing waste can have significant impacts on the economics of the seafood and aquaculture industries in the province, leading to new jobs and business opportunities and helping to mitigate the environmental problems associated with the disposal of these wastes.
Through this ongoing work, the team at CASD will further explore ways to generate various value added products such as proteins, amino acids, oils, omega-3 fatty acids, biodiesel and enzymes — all of which will have numerous applications in the fields of cosmetics, bioenergy, textile engineering, agriculture, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals going forward.