Kenyan Scientists Discover New Method of Processing Fish Waste In Lake Victoria.

Kenyan Scientists Discover New Method of Processing Fish Waste In Lake Victoria. Source: Unsplash

Kenyan Scientists Discover New Method of Processing Fish Waste In Lake Victoria. Source: Unsplash

In Lake Victoria, Kenya, dead fish are proving to be a major problem for the environment and the people. Fishmongering is a major contributor to the local economy, and hundreds of fishmongers gather along the shore of Lake Victoria to sell their fish.

However, the issue is in the waste that is created as a byproduct of the fillets being sold. Estimates show that 50-80% of the original material is turned into liquid and solid waste, which is then discarded on the ground. This results in serious environmental problems, as in the process of degrading, an effect called eutrophication happens. This is when an excess of nutrients in the water is created, leading to algal blooms and reduced water clarity.

However, a group of young scientists has created innovative solutions to this problem by repurposing the fish waste into oils, fertilizers, feed, and cosmetics that can be sold in the local markets and abroad. 

Egerton University scientists, researchers, and the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute have created new and innovative mechanisms to process this fish waste. The machine, costing only $556, can extract fish oil from the waste of the Nile perch. The Nile perch is an invasive species in Lake Victoria and disrupts the habitats and ecosystems of native marine animals in the area. Dennis Otieno, an aquatic science graduate from Kenya’s Egerton University, explains how this machine works. “The offal is fed into the machine, where it is mixed with water and stirred at a very high speed for a few minutes before the final product is produced,” this creates an oil that can be used for chicken feed and gelatin and collagen for burns and cosmetics.

This technique follows the standard procedure outlined in a 2019 study published in the journal Foods. The machine works in four stages; “degumming (to separate phospholipids), neutralizing (to reduce acidity), bleaching (to remove coloured materials), and deodorization (to remove unwanted odour compounds).” This development has increased the demand for fish oil, as consumers can purchase this product directly from the manufacturer.

This comes at a time when the global fish oil market is expected to expand significantly. In 2014, the fish oil market was valued at 2.25 billion. According to forecasting by Vantage Market Research, the fish oil market is expected to expand to 17 billion by 2028. However, a major challenge holding back the scaling of these fish oil machines is the lack of funding, which has inhibited industrial expansion. 

Protecting the environment is incredibly important, especially in areas where people rely on it for their well-being and livelihood. Lake Victoria has seen extreme ecological devastation for years, not only from the fishing industry, but also from industrial manufacturing and mining nearby.

New local innovations could spur the economy into renewable, sustainable production and manufacturing methods. As new markets emerge as the benefits of fish oil continue to be discovered, Kenya could be poised to seriously enrich the well-being of its people in a way that can be continued for years to come. 

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