Session 3:
Zero waste production and biorefining (Total Utilisation)


Zero waste production and biorefining (Total Utilisation)


Sigurjón Arason


At 2016 the global fish production are about 171 million tonnes, with aquaculture representing 47
percent of the total and 53 percent non-food uses (including fishmeal and fish oil) are excluded.
Fisheries are one of the most important industry in Iceland and will continue to play an important
role in the economy of Iceland for a long time to come. The marine resource is limited and now it is
important to utilize all the catches in the most efficient way and reduce waste. The largest part of
side-raw-materials was previously used mostly in fishmeal and fish oil processing or it was simply
digging down like waste or discard to the sea. It is important to choose the right words for utilizing
the side-raw-materials so that the correct handling of the raw material is through the value chain.
Increased utilization and value of the raw material can lead to better profit of the fish processing
companies. The quota system has put limits on value generation; the raw material has become more
expensive and sometimes difficult to get. The fishing quotas indicate allowable quantities for
harvesting from some of the most important fish species in order to control their exploitation. Both
fishermen and processors have become more interested in making marketable products from raw
materials previously used for fish meal or discarded as waste.
It is also important to maximize their value by producing high-priced products from the raw material,
which is currently being used for fish meal or simply discarded. For example, today all cod heads
from land-based processing plants are being utilized and larger share of cod heads from the freezing
trawlers are freeze on-board and brought ashore for processing. Fortunately, most of the side-raw-
materials are no longer regarded as waste but are used as raw material for seafood processing like
roe, liver, mince, viscera, etc. Therefore, quality management is important and new technologies
are emerging that will allow a new range of products to be made from side-raw-materials which will,
for example, benefit the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industries worldwide.
There have been major developments over the last 10-20 years, largely based on new biorefining
developments, and will be a gateway to future developments and increased knowledge of physical
properties and variability of side-streams. Increased demand for more efficient use of raw materials
will also stimulate new developments in new markets – market-focused development.


Sigurjon Arason educated as a chemist from the University of Iceland (UI, 1974) and civil
engineering (MSc) from DTU in Denmark (1976). From 1978 to 2007 he worked as divisional
manager at the Icelandic Fisheries Research Laboratory (Rf) and from 2007 he is Chief
Engineer at the Matis. From 1886 to 1996 he was deputy director in Rf. In addition, he is
Professor at the University of Iceland where he has taught food engineering and fishery
processing. Teaching the course, The Food Processing Technique at the University of
Akureyri. Teaching at United Nations University – both in the Marine School and Geothermal
School. Successfully supervised 50 Masters/12 PhD students, member of 10 Masters/8 PhDs
committees, and external examiner of 20 Masters/8 PhDs thesis. Ongoing work: 6 MS
students and 7 PhD students. He has been involved in researches in fish industries
worldwide in various studies on fish processing with focus on physical properties and
chemical changes that take place throughout the whole processing chain. He has
participated in research projects with almost every process and sectors in the fishing
industry, both ashore and on board, as well as optimization of logistics, packaging
technology and storage of products that optimize the storage life and quality of finished
products. Delegate as expert in the Scientific Committee is an advisory body of the BBI JU
established in accordance with BBI JU Regulation. Delegate as expert in EFSA´s working
group: Scientific panel on biological hazards. He is one of the greatest expert to improve the
utilization of sidestreams obtained in seafood processing and has forty years of experience
in this field. Arason is one of the leading researchers in the Icelandic fisheries and processing
of fish products. His research work has resulted in over 100 peer-reviewed publications and
over 300 reports and articles in newspapers and non-refereed fisheries related journals.


Institute/ organisation:

Matís, Iceland