Supertrawler owners hope fish oil salves image

Locally produced fish oil supplements would fill a niche, its manufacturers hope.
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It sounds like a fishy tale, but selling fish oil supplements could prove a boon and a welcome change of image for the Tasmanian company at the centre of the recent super trawler FV Margiris debacle.

Seafish Tasmania has revealed a project to turn fish waste into Australia's first human-grade fish oil, competing with imported products that are enjoying increasing popularity in the supplement sector.

The company's Triabunna-based factory processes about 100 tonnes of fish heads, frames and guts a day, using waste from Tasmania's three salmon farms. The company has been working on the project for four years and has only now arrived at a product that is ready for market.

Will Bignell from Seafish Tasmania says it's an Australian first and will be popular with the market.

'It's the first time someone's taken raw Australian seafood right through to recovering an oil fit for human consumption,' he said. 'We deal with all the aquaculture waste the state's producing at the moment and the idea is rather than bury it, or silage it, to turn it into value-added product such a fish oil. We're producing about 50 tonnes a week at the moment.'

Currently, the fish oil sold in Australia is imported from overseas, derived from anchovies from the west coast of Peru or the eastern coast of South Africa.

According to Bignell, several pharmaceutical companies have already expressed interest in the Tasmanian fish oil.

'I think provenance is a big thing in the market now for a lot of products, people want to know and trust where it comes from and we can say that almost down to a pen level where this oil comes from,' he said. 'We know it's grown in Tasmanian waters, it's from this state, everything's pretty clean.'

Seafish Tasmania Director, Gerry Geen, hopes the product will change public perceptions about the company.

'I'd like to think the public will see we're transforming a waste product into a value-added product in a way that's creating jobs and economic development in regional Australia. I'm hoping the oil project will be a step in the right direction for us.'