Fish processors face significant problems when disposing of waste materials. For much of the last century, the waste from fish processing was transported to rendering plants where it was converted into meal, or sold to mink farms or pet-food manufacturers. The rendering plants have since been recognized as significant polluters and most are now closed; there are few mink farms remaining and pet-food manufacturers take very little waste from fish processors. Disposal of fish waste at sea or in landfills is both expensive and highly regulated, as is pumping ground waste into coastal waters. Fish processors must therefore find new ways to address the problem of waste disposal.

There are good economic reasons to consider co-product recovery. With fewer fish being caught, the pressure to maximize profit by using every part of each fish is intense. While not every species or type of fish can be used in its entirety, a large number can. This chapter outlines the current status of seafood waste management and co-product development.

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