Rich pickings from cod bones
If the fishing industry can extract the collagen from fish bones, it could earn millions. Scientists have managed this in the lab.
Now they are trying to do it industrially.
Nofima has received funding for this work from the Research Council of Norway’s FORNY2020 programme to ensure results from publicly funded research are brought to the market.
Each year 160,000 tonnes of cod trimmings are thrown away, because there is no financial incentive for fishermen to keep them.
“The trimmings contain a lot of bones. The nutrients in bones are difficult to digest, meaning they are currently underutilized and often discarded,” says scientist Sissel Albrektsen.
Fish bones have a high collagen content. This protein is used in face creams and dietary supplements and has potential as a health-promoting ingredient in salmon feed.
Collagen is extracted from fish bones after demineralisation. Albrektsen and her colleagues have developed a process to release the minerals in fish bones and have come a long way with a process to release the proteins.
The goal of this project is to release at least 85% of the collagen-rich protein in cod bones. If they succeed, the value of fish trimmings will rocket. Extraction of minerals and proteins from cod bones could generate NOK 400–900 million per year, depending on the products developed.
“Bone components seem to affect muscle quality and health, and this may help to develop a more robust fish,” Albrektsen explains.
Fishmeal manufacturer Vedde AS is a partner in this project:
“Our goal is to increase the value of fishmeal for aquaculture in particular and to develop new ingredients for use in feed and food products,” says Ola Flesland at Vedde, which is part of the TripleNine Group.