Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 5, 2009
Publication Date: October 20, 2010
Citation: Himelbloom, B., Zhang, M., Bower, C.K. 2010. Converting Alaska fish byproducts into compost: a review. Meeting Proceedings. In: P.J. Bechtel and S. Smiley (eds.), A Sustainable Future: Fish Processing Byproducts. Alaska Sea Grant, University of Alaska Fairbanks, pp. 177-187. doi: 10.4027/sffpb.2010.15.
Alaska's commercial fishing industry, sportfishing and susbsistence fisheries generate over one million metric tons of processing waste each year. Composting is a practical alternative for salvaging some of these discarded materials. Rural and remote coastal communities can benefit from these sources of recycled seafood materials since they have access already to other ingredients necessary for developing compost such as kelp, seaweed, driftwood and sawdust. These byproducts are rich in plant essential nutrients, especially nitrogen. Local use of fish-based compost would promote the development of commercial greenhouses, small family farms and home gardens. Direct land application of the byproducts for food production attracts wild and domestic animals, and is difficult to implement. But composting the byproducts can produce a marketable product that is easy to use and store. However, arctic composting presents unique challenges not found in warmer climates and will require modifications of traditional methods to be successful. This review addresses the practicality of composting fish processing waste for filling a niche in coastal communities willing to support local agricultural endeavors. Methodologies used for examining compost development, evaluation of demonstration projects in Alaska and availability of commercial products will be discussed.