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10/14/2023 - 10:17 AM




Ms. Hoang Yen Chi, High School Student, Foreign Language Specialized School, Hanoi, Vietnam






As the environmental crisis worsens, the world is forced to develop sustainability. As a result, every industry is reaching towards forming a more sustainable economy to reduce human impact on nature as much as possible.


In Vietnam, one example is the Vietnam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company Vinamilk. The company’s combination of the use of modern waste system treatment and Biogas technology greatly minimizes CO2 emissions and transforms waste into resources. Some examples can be named such as organic fertilizer for grassland, methane gas to pasteurize milk for calves, dry grass to use as fodder for the cows (Vinamilk Sustainable Development Report 2022).


Similarly, the aquaculture industry is also doing more towards sustainability in its production chain. One of the main highlights is using fish waste generated from fish processing as material to produce fish meal, which in turn can be used as animal feed. This will decrease fish waste unloaded from factories to the environment. The practice not only helps to secure a sustainable future, but also has a lot of potential in the market. According to recent report, on the fishmeal market, the market size was at 8,000 million USD in 2021, and is expected to reach 15,000 million USD in 2023, which undoubtedly leaves a lot of space for companies to grow.


This research will discuss the current use of fish waste in producing fish meal, its process, potential, and application.


II.Fish waste and fish meal


  1. Fish Industry

Fish is an important part of the human diet, rich in calcium, phosphorus, and contains numerous minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. Therefore, the fish

industry also plays a big role in the global economy. In 2020, aquatic animals global production was approximately 178 million tons, although that was slightly lower than the record in 2018 of 179 million tons. In the 178 million tons, fisheries accounted for 90 million tonnes, which was more than a half (51%), and aquaculture accounted for 99 million tonnes (49%). From 1961 to 2019, global consumption of aquatic foods rose annually at the rate of

3.0 percent, faster compared to the rate of the world population growth (1.6 percent annually). Per capita consumption also grew from 9.0 kg (1961) to 20.5 kg (2019) (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 89% of fish caught are used for human consumption, the remaining is for non-food uses, such as producing fish meal and fish oil.


2.Fish waste


Approximately 70% of fish is processed before it can be put on the market. This results in fish waste of 20-80% of the original amount, varied by the level of processing and fish type. The processing procedure to fish range from a number of methods: stunning to minimize agonies in fish, avoiding unwanted substances produced; grading by species and size; removing slime to remove harmful anaerobic bacteria and pseudomonas species; scaling to get rid of harbor for bacterial pathogens; washing to clean accumulated bacteria; deheading; gutting; cutting of fins; separating meat and bone.


Both solid and liquid waste is released from fish processing. In addition, over half of the raw-material weight remained unused. In the market, 60% percent of the fish captured are sold frozen, canned, or cured food, leaving a considerable amount of waste material. About half of the original weight of the captured was thrown away, which means the fish industry released about 90 million tons of fish waste in 2018 (Lia Ferraz de Arruda, 2007). Furthermore, by-catch, which comprises low-value species and undersized but commercially valuable fish, is also rejected every year by a sizable amount. These by-catch are dumped back into the ocean or river, still, most of them weren’t able to survive from the effect on them.


Besides fish from the natural environment, fish farm waste also brings about harmful impacts to the farming area and the surrounding coastal zone. Such impacts can be named as reducing biomass, density and diversity of the benthos, plankton and nekton, and altering the natural food webs (Gowen, 1991; Pillay, 1991).

3.Fish waste potential


The amount of wasted potential from fish waste is significant. Fish waste still contains numerous nutrients beneficial to human health: ranging from crude protein, fat, ash, to calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and so on. The percentage of these nutrients in fish waste is shown in the table below.




Fish waste

Crude protein (%)

57.92 ± 5.26

Fat (%)

19.10 ± 6.06

Crude fiber (%)

1.19 ± 1.21

Ash (%)

21.79 ± 3.52

Calcium (%)

5.80 ± 1.35

Phosphorous (%)

2.04 ± 0.64

Potassium (%)

0.68 ± 0.11

Sodium (%)

0.61 ± 0.08

Magnesium (%)

0.17 ± 0.04

Iron (ppm)

100.00 ± 42.00

Zinc (ppm)

62.00 ± 12.00

Manganese (ppm)

6.00 ± 7.00

Copper (ppm)

1.00 ± 1.00


Values in % or mg/kg (ppm) on a dry matter basis. Note. From “Fish Processing Wastes as a Potential Source of Proteins, Amino Acids and Oils: A Critical Review,” by D. Ghaly, A.E., Ramakrishnan, V.V., Brooks, M.S., Budge, S.M., & Dave, J Microb, Biochem Technol 2013, 5:4

4.Fish Meal


Fish meal is made from either fish or fish waste, includes mainly oily pelagic fish (oil sardine), low values whole fish containing more bones, inedible parts of fish and shellfish. These raw materials contain numerous important nutrients, especially protein, minerals, making them a valuable source to produce fish meal. To produce fish meal, manufacturers need to squeeze out all liquid from fish (water and oil), and pulverize the remaining part so fish meal can have a powder form. Usually, 90 to 95% of water and oil are removed (Krishnamoorthy, 2018)). Fish meal is used in farms for poultry and cattle as a protein supplement to enhance the nutrient value in their diet.


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, global production of fishmeal in 2030 is projected to be around 7.6 million tons. In 2025, fish meal produced from fish waste will represent 38% of world fish meal production. However, as the data used to predict the results is inconsistent, the prediction might be overestimated. Nonetheless, aquaculture is continuing to expand globally, raising the demand for fish meal.


Regardless, fish waste is a great source to produce fish meal, so far as it still holds nutrient value and fish meal is still needed in farming practice. Major countries that stimulated fish meal demand are Peru, China, Thailand, Vietnam, the United States, Chile, Japan, Denmark, India, Norway, Ecuador, Morocco, Russia, Iceland, and Malaysia. In which, Peru fish meal plants are the major source of fishmeal and fish oil globally. Due to bad weather and high juvenile catches in 2022, Peru’s fishmeal production encountered reduction in final quantity. Normally, Peru alone produces almost half of the fish meal global supply.


A study from FAO examined fish waste management in Bangladesh, Philippines and Thailand revealed that typically, only large and industrial processors practice fish waste management. Processors on smaller scales on the other hand, do not have enough resources, knowledge, skills, and facilities to do it. The amount of fish waste dumped out to oceans and rivers are still remaining at an alarming rate, hence requires as much action as possible. Every processor of fish products needs to be responsible for their waste.


III.Fishmeal in Vietnam


In Vietnam, the fishery sector plays an important role in the economic structure, with the agriculture, forestry, and fishery sector accounting for 11.88%. The sector is continuing to

grow in recent years, which opens up many opportunities for companies and producers to develop in the economy. In the fourth quarter of 2022, fishery output was estimated at 2,426.5 thousand tons, more than 4.5% compared to the previous year. Of which, 1,081.7 thousand tons was fish, up 4.6% from the same period of 2021 (Vietnam General Statistics Office, 2022).


The Department of Science, Technology and Environment estimated that up to 90 percent of Vietnam’s aquaculture waste is recycled, however into lower-quality animal feeds. These animal feeds were created from trash fish, low-quality and spoiled fish. What’s more, the process of converting it into fish meal is also not certified. Many fish meal plants left trash fish to dry naturally before grinding them into powder, causing possible bacterial contamination. Trash fish and spoiled fish are often left without any preservation. The nutrition value of fishmeal depends on the materials’ nutrition value (Edwards, 2004). The value varied seasonally, and the price of fish meal from fish waste depended on the value.




The resources for fish meal are very significant, while its potential can be exploited more fully. Using fish waste for feed production is taking a step toward a more sustainable future by reducing the amount of agriculture waste released into the environment. plants and manufacturers need to follow regulations and standardized processes in order to control the quality of fish meal from fish waste.




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