DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK FOR A SUSTAINABLE FISH WASTE MANAGEMENT INFRASTRUCTURE
This is a paper prepared by SEPA on behalf of the Scottish Fish Waste Management Group (FWMG), as operated by the Scottish Executive. It will also form the basis of a phase 2 report for SEPA's National Best Practice Project (NBPP) for fish waste under the National Waste Strategy project: Scotland (NWSS).
As the final report of the FWMG it is principally aimed at providing a briefing to the Scottish Ministers and fulfilling the aims of "A Strategic Framework for Scottish Aquaculture" (SFSA, SEERAD 2003) as regards aquaculture wastes. As an NBPP report, however, it is aimed at all stakeholders involved in and affected by the NWSS project as a whole.
Certain information, regarded by the industries involved as commercially confidential has not been included. The conclusions and recommendations are based solely on the non-confidential material available at the time.
1.1 Industries profile
The fish-related industry in Scotland is composed of two sectors - aquaculture and the capture fishing sector. Activities associated with angling are not considered here due to the very small quantities of waste arising.
Aquaculture involves the rearing of aquatic animals for food. In Scotland it is dominated by the Salmon and Trout sectors as well as Shellfish and a small but increasing marine fin-fish sector, supplying cod and halibut.
Salmon farming takes place both in fresh and salt water, with the early life stages being reared in river-based hatcheries and in freshwater cage farms before being transferred to marine cage farms for ongrowing in sealochs and voes.
Trout production mainly takes place in fresh water but production methods include both tank and cage rearing, some cage sites being in coastal waters.
Slaughtering can either take place at the farm, at mobile "harvesting stations" or at fixed purpose-built sites. Gutting, filleting, smoking and other forms of processing of the slaughtered fish take place at a number of factories across Scotland.
Marine cage aquaculture is centred on the northern and Western Isles and along the west coast of Scotland. Trout farming, by contrast takes place mainly in central Scotland and the Borders with some marine farm sites on the west coast. Figure 2 shows the distribution of Marine Cage fish farms across Scotland
The fish capture industry can be divided according to the fish they catch: pelagic (fish that generally live in the middle / surface layers of the sea), demersal (bottom dwelling fish) and shellfish. Pelagic fish are generally landed whole and processed on land. The majority of demersal fish are processed at sea and the resultant waste from these fish is discarded there. Shellfish, particularly Nephrops prawns and scallops, are largely processed on land but there is some processing at sea waste from species such as Nephrops norvegicus (Norway Lobster). Pelagic fish are landed principally in Shetland and north east Scotland: demersal fish landings are widely distributed but with processing centred in the north east: the majority of shellfish landings are in the Highlands and Islands. The majority of the waste from the wild caught sector comes from on shore processing [Seafish SR537 November 2001]. Figure 1 below shows diagrammatically the finfish waste produced from Scottish Fisheries. (Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd)
Figure 2 Location of Marine cage fish farms
Of principle concern in the aquaculture industry is waste generated as a result of on-farm mortalities (either routine or catastrophic). Therefore this paper deals principally with this waste.
The management of wastes from the aquaculture industry is constrained primarily by logistical, economic and regulatory factors. The industry's production sites are widely dispersed throughout remote parts of the Highlands and Islands, presenting obvious logistical difficulties in terms of waste collection and transport to disposal outlets. These can be further complicated in the case of catastrophic event mortalities, where the source and quantity of waste material is impossible to predict. These logistical difficulties in turn make the safe storage, collection and transport of fish wastes very costly. The exception to this is export to Norway where the costs are significantly lower. Table 1.2 below gives indicative costs to producers of the various disposal options. Recent implementation of the ABPR has compounded the challenges facing the industry by proscribing specific disposal methods.
With the publication in March 2003 of SFSA, the Scottish Executive made a national commitment to develop a collective waste management infrastructure for the aquaculture industry. At the same time, those involved in delivering the NWSS were beginning to address the strategic development of more sustainable approaches to Scotland's commercial and industrial (non-municipal) waste streams. The two developments were integrated, and a joint approach produced, in order to honour the Executive's commitment and further the NWSS.
Table 1.2 Overall estimated costs to Producers of mortality disposal (Source: Poseidon 2003)
Cost to Producer, /tonne waste
Raw Fish Waste
Landfill, W Highlands
Landfill W Isles
Fish meal and Oil Grimsby
Norway export, Scanbio Scotland
Norway export, Hordafor, Shetland
Incineration, PDM Group Widnes fluidised bed combuster
Norway export, Hordafor, W Isles
The most pressing strategic concerns relate to mortalities from marine cage aquaculture and trout farming. This is due to an absence of suitable facilities able to take this waste. This specific source of fish waste forms the focus of the recommendations, although clearly future infrastructure developments may offer parallel opportunities to the freshwater, wild catch and processing sectors (better data on arisings in these sectors will facilitate this). Due to a lack of data, Shellfish wastes are not covered by this report.
An early stage in the process was the setting up of a national stakeholder group, to involve both fish waste producers and the waste management industry to gain consensus on the way forward. The resulting Fish Waste Management Group (FWMG) has and will continue to be engaged at every step to ensure a degree of 'ownership' of any future development proposals. At present, the FWMG consists of representatives from the following organisations:
- SEERAD (Aquaculture Policy and, Waste Regulation and Animal Health)
- Highlands and Islands Enterprise
- Western Isles Aquaculture Association
- Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers
- Shetland Salmon Farmers' Association
- Scottish Quality Salmon
- Seafish Industry Authority
- Federation of Scottish Aquaculture Producers
- UK Renderers' Association
- COSLA (Animal Health and Welfare Strategy Group)
- Chartered Institution of Wastes Management
- Scottish Environmental Services Association
- Fisheries Research Services
- McKechnie Jess Ltd
- Scanbio (Scotland) Ltd
- British Trout Association
- UK Association of Fishmeal Manufacturers
- The Composting Association
- WRE Ltd
- Enviro Centre Ltd
- Transfer Systems International (UK) Ltd
1.5 Core Principles
At an early meeting of the FWMG the membership were asked to endorse a proposed approach developed by SEPA in accordance with NWSS principles. The stepwise approach, which was subsequently agreed, composed the following key stages:
- Baseline assessment (waste arisings, infrastructure, current practice, trends)
- Technical review of existing / emerging waste management options
The first stage was intended to characterise and quantify Scotland's fish waste stream, and the way it is currently managed, and also to identify any data gaps. The second stage was intended to investigate in detail the options available for managing fish waste, taking account of process requirements, outputs, costs, regulatory constraints. There was considerable overlap between these two initial stages, both of which are now complete. The output of these two stages has formed the basis of the recommendations included in this report.
In addition to the adoption of this general process approach, there is also a range of core principles inherent to the NWSS that should guide the assessment of future waste management options. These include:
The Waste Hierarchy - consideration should be given to the reduction of wastes at source, the recovery of value / utility from wastes, and final disposal of wastes in descending order of preference
Proximity Principle - wastes should be managed as near as practicable to their point of production, to mitigate the costs and impacts of transportation
Self-Sufficiency - waste producers within regions that define economies of scale should aim to be self-sufficient in the management of their wastes