Concern on environmental issues is growing in both developed and developing countries. In particular, fishery industries (capture and aquaculture) suffer from pollution produced by other sectors of the society (industry, agriculture and urban sewage). As a consequence, fishery industries are becoming increasingly aware of their role as a potential source of pollution; and they must show a responsible attitude regarding waste from their fishery industry if they expect other sectors to reduce their pollution of waterbodies. Further, a number of Governments have decided to pass rules enforcing the fishery industries to treat their effluents in an appropriate way (e.g., Thailand and Venezuela). Fish technologists, particularly in developing countries, must become informed on this issue and be in position to advise Governments and the fishery industry on fishery wastewater treatment. This need, identified in several FAO/DANIDA Workshops on Fish Technology carried out by project GCP/INT/609/DEN (formerly GCP/INT/391/DEN), motivated the preparation of this document.

In addition to the classic approach of utilizing solid fish wastes in the production of fish meal and oil, the current tendency of the fishery industry regarding wastewater moves in two complementary directions. On the one hand, the aim is to reduce wastes as much as possible by better fish handling and processing and by a rational use of water; this approach is usually called "clean production". On the other hand, the objective is to search for wastewater treatment processes that could offset the costs involved, totally or in part, through the recovery of substances, in particular protein and fat, from wastewater. The two approaches are complementary in that "clean production" reduces the volume of effluents and makes them more concentrated, thus improving the overall economics of the recovery process. This paper deals specifically with wastewater characterization (explained in section 2), treatment and recovery.

The present document was originally prepared for use at courses and workshops on fish technology, in which the participants have a basic knowledge of chemistry and microbiology. However, for people with practical experience working in the fishery industry, the document provides the necessary background information on fisheries wastewater treatment. FAO has decided to publish it as an FAO Fisheries Technical Paper rather than as a project publication, to allow for extensive diffusion in view of the worldwide relevance of the subject involved. The preparation, editing and printing of this paper have been financed by the FAO/DANIDA Training Project on Fish Technology and Quality Assurance (GCP/INT/609/ DEN). The outline was proposed and the technical editing were done by Mr. H.M. Lupin (Project Manager GCP /INT/609/DEN).

FAO Fisheries Department.
FAO Regional and Sub-Regional Fisheries Officers
Selector Handling and Processing
FAO Fisheries field projects
FAO Representative Offices

Gonzalez, J.F.
Wastewater treatment in the fishery industry.
FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 355. Rome, FAO. 1995. 52p.


This document presents fish processors with an introduction to the concepts of fisheries wastewater characterization and the various types of treatment utilised. The topics dealt with include characterization analysis, primary treatment, biological treatment, physicochemical treatment including disinfection, sludge treatment and disposal. Economic considerations are among the most important parameters that influence the final decision on which process should be chosen for wastewater treatment and these are presented in the final section.


The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance and resources provided by the National University of Mar del Plata (UNMdP) and the National Research Council of Agentina (CONICET).