The use of fish parts benefits both the traditional and circular economy

Researchers from Finland offer multiple innovative ways to make use of fish waste and parts.
Woman smoking fish in Katanga, Togo.

There’s more to fish than just food, and thorough use of fish parts benefits both traditional and circular economy. The full potential of fish-based added value products hasn’t yet been harnessed. Researchers from the Institute of Natural Resources of Finland (LUKE) give their view on how unused fish parts could be exploited.

Fish skin contains collagen, a protein that is used in, for example, cosmetics to increase skin elasticity and strength. Collagen can also be turned into gelatine which is utilised in foodstuffs, like gummy bears, as a gelling component. Fish skin can also be cured and tanned for leather products like handbags or shoes.

Fish scales contain chitin, organic material that can be transformed into chitosan. Chitosan has multiple applications for biomedicine, dietary supplements and agriculture, for example. The most extreme applications include using chitosan as a repairing material for car paint coatings.

Fish bones are an excellent source of different minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, and contain also collagen. The minerals can be used as raw materials in the chemical and fertiliser industries. By obtaining phosphorus from fish bones the circle can be closed.