The fishing and aquaculture industries are vital to food security and the livelihoods of billions of people around the world. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), fish and seafood provide 3.3 billion people with 20% of their average intake of animal protein. However, increasing global demand for fish and seafood has led to the overexploitation of fish stocks worldwide, which are also threatened by climate change and ecosystem degradation.
Governments worldwide have gradually implemented measures to limit fishing activities with a view to ensuring the long-term future of stocks.
However, the industry faces two main challenges:
- The discard of fish; and
- The unsustainable management of by-products generated during processing of catches from fishing and cultivated fish and seafood.
The LIFE REFISH project aims to demonstrate the viability of a biorefinery that improves the sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) of the fish and seafood industry by maximising the value of landed discards and fish and seafood by-products. It plans to scale up a demonstration biorefinery capable of processing around 300 kg of raw matter/hour. The biorefineary will then valorise landed discards, such as blue whiting, Atlantic horse mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, by-products from onboard processing, such as hake and squid, and by-products from onshore processing, such as tuna, shrimp and turbot.
- Production of eight high value-added products (protein hydrolysates, fish and squid oils, mineral fraction, collagen hydrolysates, gelatines, fish mince, chitin and chitosan) from discards and waste for use in dietary supplements, food flavours, pet food, fertilisers and aquafeed;
- Demonstration of the first biorefinery for fish and seafood raw matter; and
- Demonstration of flexible design, adjustable to different raw matter and thus easily replicable to other European regions.