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Marine Resource Economics: Value Addition on Tuna Fish By-Products


Value addition is the most talked-about phrase across the world of the manufacturing and processing industry, particularly in the export-oriented processing industry because of the increased realization of valuable foreign exchange. In the fishing industry like any other venture, value can be added to fish and fishery by-products to maximize profits by reducing wastes. It can also help in reducing environmental pollution due to the dumping of wastes from processing plants (FAO 2013). Fishing is a very important activity around the Pacific Ocean, but a lot of the products from fish go to waste. It is done at three levels, one the large scale which involves big fish processing companies, and the small traders who catch fish in the deep seas for selling directly to make money. Lastly, the individual households buy fish to use as food at home.

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The industrial processors, who extract fillets for export overseas or at high-end markets, produce the largest quantity of Tuna fish by-products in the Pacific circuit. Traders who sell unprocessed fish directly to consumers are the second producers of the by-products, followed at a distance by the individual households. In general, it is estimated that 50% of fish is made of by-products. The other 50% by its fillet, meaning by the end of the fishing process and after consumption, half of the products goes to waste. The proportionate ratios of these by-products are head 18%, skin, and non-fillet 14%, bones 8%, gills and viscera 8%, and fines 2%.

Feasibility for Diversification

These by-products are considered used when they are treated in a way that maximizes their economic value. On the other hand, under-using occurs when some or whole of the by-products are used but not in a manner that realizes their full economic value. While they are seen as gone to waste when they are dumped after extraction of the flesh. The biggest generator of by-products as waste is the industries processing fish, with only about 40% -60% going into processing, and the remaining parts are dumped as waste. It is also estimated that companies around the pacific generate about 120,000 tonnes of Tuna by-products.

There is a huge potential to turn these by-products into food, fish meal, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and other useful marketable goods (Paramasivan 2020). In some Pacific countries, fish processors are already diversifying and creating value addition from Tuna by-products but it is still below par. Many fish processing companies still largely operate to extract the fish flesh only. In the long run, these processors miss a big opportunity to maximize their profits and widen their revenue brackets.

Food additives

The remaining fish parts like bones, scales, and guts are usually wasted. However, they can be converted to productive materials which can fetch a lot more extra money for the fish processors. They can be used to make fish powder used to enrich staple foods such as maize and cassava, and therefore improving levels of micronutrients in the diet. The world over more so in Africa, a huge population depends on maize and cassava as staple foods. Maize is deficient in amino acids lysine and tryptophan, while cassava is low in protein and fats.

Their frequent consumptions of staple foods result in protein deficiency mostly in children. Enrichment of maize and cassava with fish powder made from bones, scales and guts, increases, the protein quality of the diet and also enhances the diet with essential omega-3, fatty acids, and particularly micronutrients. The powders can be incorporated into school feeding programs and made available to purchasers from local and international markets to help combat anemia, stunting, and general malnutrition. For example, Tuna bone powder has less flavor but a more nutritional value (five times higher – in calcium, four-time higher – in iron, and two times higher – in omega-3). Processors should take this initiative and venture into the manufacture of fish powder on large scale. It has the potential to raise its profit margins because of a huge demand for this powder around the world.


It has been proved through scientific research and experiments that fertilizer made from Tuna by-products like bones, huts, and scales are very much useful for agricultural crops. Its organic nature fits the need of today’s demand for the conservation of the environment by avoiding the use of chemically generated fertilizers. It can be made in a process whereby the by-products are turned into a soluble state, which is then mixed with other liquids to make liquid fertilizer called hydrolysate. The by-products are normally smashed up and mixed with enzymes into amino acid compounds (Juverna International 2018). Its organic stature makes it ideal for use in any environment around the world. Reviews done from several studies have confirmed that it help farmer produce quality fresh and green vegetables, improves the soil quality, and has huge micro and macronutrients. This technology is simple and less expensive, and can be done by processors on large scale and exported all over the world, with huge revenue returns.

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Leather products

Tuna skin is one of the major by-products which go to waste, despite the fact that it is a novel material that can produce high-quality leather products. It must be turned into a primary material for leather clothes, shoes, and bags (Kyodo News 2017). Studies and experiments have shown that leather made from Tuna has high quality in tensile strength, and venting property compared with conventional leather. This makes it possible to be one of the best leather materials which can provide customers with value for money. Fish processors can take advantage of this and diversify within their factories by converting Tuna skin into leather and then selling them to factories that make leather products.

Individual small and medium businesses can also venture into turning Tuna skin into leather through this simple process. It involves soaking the skin into the water to restore the protein tissue of the original raw skin, and removing impurities like salt content on the skin surface to impede activities of viruses. Next, constrain the skin by immersing it in calcium hydroxide, thereby removing the scales from the skin, water solution protein, and greasy matter between the skin’s outer layer and fibers. Use an agent to neutralize and remove the lime from the skin and help it turn the skin’s swollen state into its original state. Then wash the skin by hydrolyzing the unnecessary protein layer of the skin with a protease enzyme to loosen the fiber structure of the skin, to improve its flexibility, elongation rate, and make it beautiful. Next pickle the skin by depositing it in an acid solution to transform it into leather with the qualities of mineral leather.

This process imparts thermal resistance, corrosion resistance, anti-perishability, and flexibility to the tuna skin. Conduct dyeing of the skin with one or more dyes of any colors you wish, to impart color tones and create flexibility to the skin. Finally dry it to remove watery contents and create unique patterns in the skin, and finish with splitting the skin. This is a simple procedure which any small fish fork can do because it is not both labor, and capital intensive. It is beneficial in the sense that, any small fisherman can use it to avoid wasting or dumping Tuna skin when they want to cook the fish.

Producing food supplements and drugs

Sexual organs of tuna contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which promote healthy blood flow and they are good in preventing the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Besides, omega-3 has the capacity to eliminate the risk of coronary heart diseases, can reduce the number of triglycerides in the blood. This improves the circulatory system and therefore reduces the risk of some diseases which impede the sexual function of men. They are also rich in proteins, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D. Tuna fish processing plants only need to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies and sell to them these sexual organs which go as waste. The pharmaceuticals can then use them to make nutritional supplements and drugs which can help the healthy circulation of blood as well as those that prevent heart disease. It will be a challenge for fish processors to diversify into the chemical or pharmaceutical business but selling the by-product to pharmaceutical companies in a hygienic manner, and make money out of it is appropriate.

Energy (Bio-fuel)

World over there is a growing demand for an increase in the production of clean energy, to help reduce the effects of global warming and environmental catastrophes. Bio-fuel is one of the sources of clean energy alongside solar, wind, and hydroelectric (Ciria and Barro 2016). Over the years there has been a growing interest in using aquatic biomass from marine and freshwaters. The production of clean energy from fish by-products is estimated to have the potential of producing large amounts of electric power. What is needed to be done, is for companies which are already processing fish products to diversify their productions so that they may install the equipment required for the generation of electricity. This will go a long way in helping such companies cut the cost of production, by eliminating electricity costs. Chances are that processors could also produce more than enough for internal use and sell the rest to other entities in need, and make extra profits from what they normally dispose of as waste.

Livestock feeds

Fish waste from fish processing plants if not managed well may cause huge environmental pollution which in turn raises the level of global warming. These wastes have some value and can be an extra source of revenue for companies, which only need to convert them into livestock feeds. It calls for diversification of the productions units with the help of technology to maximize the output produced from the fish as raw material Sistwati and Mohamed 2012). The waste can be processed into fishmeal which then is sold to farmers for use as animal feed mixtures for poultry, pork, and aquaculture food. This can be done at the industrial level by fermenting and mixing it with food additives to make it nutritious. The net effect of this will be the scaling up of the manufactures profit margins. Livestock farmers around the world also will directly benefit due to the huge supply of animal feeds, which then reduces the prices in the market because of large production.

Human food

Tuna is processed in industries and sold as, chilled, frozen, or canned food. However, its by-products can be utilized to make food, which can get directly to the low-end market dominated by the poor carder of the human population (F & W Editors 2017). Who may not be able to afford first-class and quality fish fillets coming out of the industries. Industrial remains like heads, bones, and fins, can be packaged neatly at the manufacturing plants and sold under companies’ labels to many people around the world; to be used for making soup (Tangke 2021). Organs of visceral can be used utilized to make fish sauce production.

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There is a very huge potential of value addition to by-products of Tuna fish around the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean which is untapped. Fish processing plants should tap into this pull which has a capacity to generate large amounts of revenue through diversification in their production units to maximize profits and reduce wastage. The benefits of value addition on the by-products are far much bigger in the long run than the costs involved to upgrade fish processing plants to produce other products. Value addition on by-products will also help companies processing fish around the Pacific Ocean to reduce environmental pollution by a big proportion, which is even good for fish breading.


Ciria, P. and Barro, R. (2016). Biomass Supply Chains for Bioenergy and Biorefining. Science Direct. Web.

FAO. (2013). By-products of tuna processing. Biomass resource assessment. AGRIS. Web.

F & W Editors. (2017). Ways to Use Leftover Fish Heads and Bones: Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads. Food & Wine. Web.

Juverna International. (2018). How Tuna hydrolysate Liquid Organic Fertilizer Improved Agricultural Crops. Juverna International PTY LTD. Web.

Kyodo News. (2017). Discarded Bluefin tuna skin made into leather products. Web.

Paramasivan, K. (2020). Production of Value added Fish Products: A Potential Business for Coastal Women. ResearchGate. Web.

N. D. and Mohammad, A. Z. (2012). Animal Feed Making from Tuna Fish Waste with Fermentation Process. Jurnal Teknik Kimia. Web.

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Tangke, U. (2021). Organoleptic Quality of Tuna Porridge Canned with Fortified Tuna Bone Meal. IOP Publishing.

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