KENYA – An intern at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) from Egerton University, Dennis Otieno, developed a technology to extract fish oil from fish waste around Lake Victoria.

As fishing dominates as the biggest domestic activity in the communities adjacent to lake victoria, a number of medium-scale fish processing plants have emerged along the shores which produce colossal amounts of waste.

Fish harvested from the lake and processed into chilled fillets for exports generate solid waste which amounts to 50 – 80 % of the original raw materials.

This poses a threat to the environment to both marine and human life and prompted run-ins with officials from public health and National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA) every now and then, according to a resident of Kisumu.

Dennis Otieno a graduate of Aquatic Science, therefore, developed technology to convert fish waste into a chain of useful products.

“I saw a problem of fish waste and started thinking of how to close the gap in the fishery value chain and at the same time save the environment. We gave it both an environmental and business approach,” he said.

He, together with 2 fellow students, locally invented the machine whose major components were the centrifuge, holding tank and release taps.

They extract omega-three fish oils from the offal of Nile perch fish species abundant in the area, through a process called wet rendering which takes 3 days.

It should take them less time but due to a lack of the proper machines, they improvise using gas to boil the offal before extracting the fish oils.

The oils extracted can be used to make chicken feed, fish scale flowers gelatin and water-soluble proteins used for different applications.

Otieno reports an increasing demand for the oils saying that the project has empowered him and his mates economically.

“We are aiming at being the leading producer of omega-three fish oil, animal feeds, gelatin, and flowers,” he said.

Meanwhile, at a larger scale, the global market of fishmeal and fish oil production reports indicate that each year about 20 million tons are mostly sourced from whole fish, shellfish and farmed fish by-products.

These materials can produce about 5 million tons of fish meal and one million tonnes of fish oil.

Fish oil has been used in the industry over the years for the production of margarine, cooking oil, industrial coatings, soaps and caulking compounds.

Otieno and his mates have benefited other people in the area as well as the environment and KMFRI Assistant Director and Research Scientist Dr Chrispin Nyaweya lauded the concept saying that plans are underway to certify their products and pave way for mass production.

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