Zhang, Jingsi; Akyol, Çağrı; Meers, Erik


  • Fishery waste-based fertilisers perform equally to commercial synthetic fertilisers.
  • Fish sludge has a great potential but should be treated/refined before application.
  • Salinity and microplastics are potential critical parameters.
  • The choice of technology depends on the raw material and desired end-product.
  • Fish processing waste/wastewater/sludge has high protein and lipid contents.



The circular bio-based economy offers great untapped potential for the food industry as possible valuable products and energy can be recovered from food waste. This can promote more sustainable and resilient food systems in Europe in follow-up of the European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy and support the global transition to more sustainable agri-food systems with the common agricultural and fisheries policies. With its high nutrient content, waste and by-products originating from fish and seafood industry (including aquaculture) are one of the most promising candidates to produce alternative fertilising products which can play a crucial role to replace synthetic mineral fertilisers. Whereas several studies highlighted the opportunities to recover valuable compounds from fishery waste, study towards their potential for the production of fertilising products is still scarce. This study presents an extensive overview of the characteristics of fishery waste and by-products (i.e., fish processing waste, fish sludge, seafood waste/by-products), the state-of-the-art nutrient recovery technologies and recovered nutrients as fertilising products from these waste streams. The European Commission has already adopted a revised Fertilising Products Regulation (EU) 2019/1009 providing opportunities for fertilising products from various bio-based origins. In frame of this opportunity, we address the quality and safety aspects of the fishery waste-derived fertilising products under these criteria and highlight possible obstacles on their way to the market in the future. Considering its high nutrient content and vast abundance, fish sludge has a great potential but should be treated/refined before being applied to soil. In addition to the parameters currently regulated, it is crucial to consider the salinity levels of such fertilising products as well as the possible presence of other micropollutants, especially microplastics to warrant their safe use in agriculture. The agronomic performance of fishery waste-derived fertilisers is also compiled and reported in the last section of this review paper, which in most cases perform equally to that of conventional synthetic fertilisers.


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