If the fishing industry can extract the collagen it could also earn millions, according to scientists from Nofima, who have recently managed this in the lab and are now they are trying to do it on an industrial scale.
Each year 160,000 tonnes of cod trimmings are thrown away, because there is little 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 Nofima scientist Sissel Albrektsen.
Fish bones have a high content of collagen – a protein is used in face creams and dietary supplements and has potential as a health-promoting ingredient in salmon feed. Collagen can be extracted from fish bones after demineralisation and Albrektsen and her colleagues have developed a new process to release the proteins.
The goal of this project, which has received funding from the Research Council of Norway’s FORNY2020 programme, is to release at least 85 percent of the collagen-rich protein in cod bones. If they succeed, the value of fish trimmings could generate NOK 400–900 million per year, depending on the products developed.
They could also help to boost the health of farmed salmon and fishmeal manufacturer Vedde AS is a partner in the project.
“Bone components seem to affect muscle quality and health, and this may help to develop a more robust fish,” Albrektsen explains.
“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 Vedde’s Ola Flesland.