A sustainable industry


Denmark has been a key player in the industrial fishery sector since the 1950s, boasting a highly developed fishmeal and fish oil industry that has earned global prominence.

Initially centered around herring, the industrial fishery has evolved to target Sandeel, sprat, Norway pout, and boarfish. The primary fishing grounds include the North Sea and Baltic Sea, with vessels from various countries landing their catches in Denmark.

An essential aspect of fishmeal and fish oil production is the utilization of trimmings from filleting industries, constituting a growing percentage of the total tonnage. This practice not only enhances production efficiency but also serves as an effective means of recycling material that might otherwise end up in landfills.

Industrial species, which are unsuitable for direct human consumption due to their limited commercial value, are typically short-lived with high natural mortality rates. Despite lower fishing mortality compared to natural mortality, stock sizes can fluctuate significantly from year to year, influenced by natural processes such as recruitment.

The most important species:

Fishmeal and fish oil production primarily involve small, short-lived fish with limited direct human consumption potential, along with recycled trimmings from fish processing. Major European species for production include capelin, sandeel, blue whiting, sprat, Norway pout, and boarfish.

To ensure sustainability, the production is grounded in certified, sustainable exploitation of natural resources. European countries strictly regulate fish stocks used for fishmeal and fish oil production through catch limitations, guided by biological advice and government oversight.

A noteworthy trend is the increasing contribution of raw materials from trimmings, as fillet yields from most fish species range from 30% to 65%, leaving valuable resources for fishmeal and fish oil producers. Consequently, the European fishmeal industry emerges as a significant contributor to a circular blue bioeconomy, embodying sustainable practices and resource utilization.

Raw materials

The raw materials for the fishmeal industry are fresh marine fish and recycled trimmings from fish processing for human consumption.

The major species used for production of fishmeal and fish oil in Denmark are Sandeel, sprat, norway pout and boarfish. These species are short-lived species with no or little commercial value as human consumption.