SCIENTISTS in Finland and Vietnam are working on the idea of manufacturing biodiesel from fish waste, funded by the EU to the tune of 5million euros.
If they are successful, there is no reason why such an idea should not be applied in Scotland, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the UK commercial fishing effort.
Herring and mackerel are, for example, landed in large quantities by specialist vessels, plus Scottish boats still catch traditional species such as haddock and exotic shellfish such as langoustine in significant quantities.
Waste traditionally goes to the manufacture of fishmeal, which can be used both as a fertiliser and livestock feed. What if it were possible to use some of it for biodiesel manufacture.
The Finnish initiative, ENERFISH, is a three-year project focused on producing biodiesel from the waste generated at a fish-processing plant. To help ensure the viability and rapid commercialisation of the technology, the partners are building a biodiesel production plant next to a fish processor in Vietnam.
The company produces 120 tonnes of fish waste daily. At the moment, it is used to feed farm animals.
“Using waste from the fish-processing industry as a renewable energy source can be turned into a highly profitable business operation,” says Aulis Ranne, a senior research scientist at VTT in Finland.
Vietnam was chosen for the trial as it has a large number of fish-processing plants.
There is local need for decentralised energy production as well as state-of-the-art cooling technology to keep processed fish fresh.
The countries of south-east Asia and China are the global hubs of fish processing. Even seafoods caught off Scotland have been sent there for processing.