AQUABIOPRO-FIT - Bringing fish heads and bones back to the dinner table


The EU-funded project AQUABIOPRO-FIT aims to bring proteins and bioactives from marine by-products into our food chain through nutritional supplements. Using sustainable processing technologies, nutritional components will be up-concentrated, while maintaining product quality and minimising waste.

Everyone knows that eating fresh fish is good for us. But by only eating the fillets, and discarding the by-products, such as heads, skin and backbones, we miss out on many valuable nutrients that can benefit our health and fitness.

Around half of all fish biomass is wasted despite being rich in proteins and bioactive compounds. Of the 5 million tons of by-products from the fishing industry, some are used for feed, pet food and food supplements while the rest is discarded. Consequently, this potential source of valuable compounds is extremely underutilised. AQUABIOPRO-FIT will take these residual by-products and convert them into high-quality, functional ingredients using efficient and sustainable processing methods.

Fish heads, backbones, skin and viscera are a source of valuable proteins and peptides, such as collagen and gelatine, lipids and minerals. Tunicates, also known as sea-squirts, are rich in cellulose and protein. Aside from their nutritional quality, these ingredients also exhibit interesting therapeutic functionalities that can be used to tackle depression, ageing and inflammation. AQUABIOPRO-FIT will develop processes to isolate and stabilise these ingredients, so they can be added to food, drink and feed products. Through application and clinical tests, the efficacy and commercial potential of these ingredients will be assessed.

AQUABIOPRO-FIT enables a circular economy” said project coordinator Katerina Kousoulaki. “It unifies the largest fisheries nations in Europe, building bridges between producers of potentially valuable marine side stream biomass and the European citizens through innovations, intervention studies and training.”

AQUABIOPRO-FIT, a €4million four-year project, started on 1 April 2018. The consortium is coordinated by Nofima in Norway and consists of 12 partners from Norway, Spain, Greece, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Bulgaria. The project is one of 17 that has been funded by the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) 2017 call for proposals. The kick-off meeting was held at the Nofima office in Bergen, Norway on 10-11 April 2018.

More information about the project can be found at the AQUABIOPRO-FIT website.

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