The fishing and seafood industry is central to the food security and livelihoods of billions of people, yet its sustainability is challenged by the following practices:
- Discarding of unwanted catch back into the ocean, which results in e.g., wasted resources and higher mortality of species. The EU Landing Obligation (LO) aims to cease this practice, yet compliance is very low since landing discards is economically inviable for fishers.
- Unsustainable management of fish and seafood by-products, which results in e.g., loss of valuable resources and introduction of disease into fish populations (infected by-products are thrown back to the sea). Current valorisation of by-products into fishmeal is unsustainable due to low value generated.
To overcome these challenges, LIFE REFISH consortium joins key international fish and seafood players with the aim of upscaling and demonstrating a biorefinery able to valorise discards and fish and seafood byproducts into high value-added products. Through a set of interconnected valorisation processes (e.g., hydrolysis, nanofiltration, vacuum evaporation), we will obtain high quality and environmentally friendly protein hydrolysates, oils, mineral fraction, collagen hydrolysates, gelatines, fish mince, chitin and chitosan. Thanks to the high value of our products, we will be able to offer fishers a 3-6 times higher price for their discards or by-products than current purchase price for production of fishmeal or oil.
By 2030, we will minimise by 1.8% discarding in Spain and valorise 1.9% of the total amount of fish and seafood by-products produced by the Spanish fish and seafood industry. This way, we will reduce these wasteful practices and their detrimental impact on the marine environment (disease proliferation, mortality) and industry sustainability.