Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

Use of By-Products from Norwegian Aquaculture and Fisheries

Asbjorn Bergheim, Sigrun Bekkevold, Helge Bergslien


By-products from fisheries and aquaculture represent both a valuable resource and a potential environmental risk. Some 10 years ago, dead fish and processing waste was considered a serious environmental problem along the Norwegian coast. Indiscriminate dumping of dead and discarded fish from cage farms was an obvious source of diseases and risk from antibiotic treatments. A huge amount of by-products from the fishing fleet was and still is dumped into the sea off the coast, representing more of a potential resource problem than a pollution problem.

The complicated waste situation in the traditional fisheries and the fish-farming industry formed the backdrop for establishing the RUBIN (Recycling and Use of Organic By-products in Norway) Foundation in 1991–92. A chief objective of the foundation was to significantly increase the use of by-products. In the first phase (1992–95), RUBIN emphasized ways to solve environmental problems and to create markets for the huge volumes, whereas the commercial use and added value from byproducts have become the focus of more recent efforts. The volume of utilized organic by-products increased strongly during the 1990s, and the formerly dominating waste problems are generally considered to be solved (RUBIN 1998).

In this paper, we report on the improved use of fish by-products and the correspondingly reduced pollution levels achieved over the past decade.

Both quantity and composition of by-products increase with increasing fish processing (Table 1). By filleting herring, approximately 50% of the volume is by-products, and the gutting and head cutting of gadoid species produce approximately 30% by-products. Shrimp processing yields about 70% of the initial volume as shells and outlet water waste (RUBIN 1998).