Danish fishmeal company inaugurates dioxin extraction plant

Danish fishmeal company, TripleNine has achieved a world first with the inauguration of the world's first plant for the extraction of dioxins from fishmeal.
April 27, 2005

Danish fishmeal company, TripleNine has achieved a world first with the inauguration of the world's first  plant for the extraction of dioxins from fishmeal.

The plant, located close to the production buildings of TripleNine at the fishing port in Esbjerg, Denmark, was built at a cost of approximately 130 million DKK. (US$22.65 million).

"A lot of the dioxin we fishers now have to clean from the sea fish has been discharged by various industries. And we emphasized this problem many years ago. At the time, nobody suspected anything, but now, it is obvious that the fishers were right," TripleNine Board chairman, Erik Bonde Pedersen, said.

Pendersen said he believed that the plant could pay for itself. Based on the biologists’ recommendations, Denmark can catch a million tons of industrial fish. "But it requires that the politicians are prepared to view industrial fishing as an economic activity - and not something expressing a strange way of living," he said.

A genuine business success
The Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hans Chr. Schmidt said at the plant opening that TripleNine Fish Protein is a genuine Danish business success.

"You are the only fishmeal plant in the world to have succeeded in constructing extraction plants, where dioxin is extracted from fishmeal and fish oil. The small sand eel and other industrial fish are processed to clean meal and oil, which again is used as feed, for instance for the breeding of salmon, which can be further refined in Danish enterprises," said Hans Chr. Schmidt. He noted that TripleNine is also an enterprise deeply aware of the environment, which has been documented by the green accounts of the enterprise for many years.

Industrial fishing is a sustainable business
"Industrial fishing is a good way to use the resources of the sea, stated the Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. And it is absolutely legitimate, when, as is the case with TripleNine, it results in the highest possible quality of the end products and is performed on the basis of sustainability and high moral standards.

"It is my greatest wish to see the fishing of sand eel reaching its previous level again. And then I am convinced that by constructing this huge extraction plant, TripleNine will have shown that it is worthwhile to meet the requirements of time".

Building windmills
There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this: When the wind is strong, some build windbreaks and others build windmills!

Writing in the 999 Newsletter, Nils Christian Jensen said: "This proverb describes quite well the current situation of TripleNine, now that we have just invested 130 million DKK in the market-oriented future securing of the enterprise in the shape of the new plants for extracting dioxin from fishmeal and fish oil.

"For there is no doubt that the wind is strong in industrial fishing, and the industry now faces the worst challenges of its existence for more than 50 years.

"The trade has developed from a relatively free trade to a trade that is now thoroughly monitored and controlled politically, where the EU sends out a constant flow of regulations covering everything from the limitation of fishing opportunities to the content of unwanted matter both in fishmeal and fish oil.

"One of these groups of unwanted matter is the so-called dioxins, and the EU has determined maximum values for the content of dioxin in both fish such as salmon and herring for consumption, and in fishmeal and fish oil.

"Many of the raw materials received by TripleNine today – sprat from the Baltic Sea or sand eel and blue whiting from the North Sea – contain so much dioxin that the maximum value in fishmeal and fish oil is exceeded.

"Therefore, we invested 130 Million DKK in order to extract dioxin from fishmeal and fish oil. It is simply a question of securing the plant for the future.

"The amounts of dioxin in question are unbelievably small from the point of view of the normal consumer. In a normal year, where TripleNine receives 1 million tons of fish, the total amount of dioxin is less than 1 gram, of which the major part is found in fish oil.

"For many years, TripleNine has extracted the dioxin from fish oil by means of a carbon filtration plant, whereas the new extraction plant serves to treat fishmeal, and it removes less than 0.1 gram of dioxin per year.

"Now, the industrial fishers are not the polluters. They are the victims, today confronted with the bill from the sins of the past. It would therefore only have been just if the EU had supported the construction of the dioxin extraction plants of TripleNine, but this was not to be.

"It is well-known that the Baltic Sea is polluted with dioxin and thus, fish from the Baltic Sea are more or less polluted with dioxin, too. TripleNine now has a plant that can secure the removal of dioxin from fishmeal and fish oil. Therefore, to put it simply, we can assist in removing dioxin from the Baltic Sea, but this requires that the authorities grant a rise in the fishing of sprat and herring in the Baltic Sea for industrial use.

"The industrial fishers would welcome this hugely, since their quotas for the year have been decreased by 26 %. At the same time, this would result in the removal of a part of the dioxin in the food chain in the Baltic Sea, and over time, this would reduce the content of dioxin in Baltic Sea salmon, too.

A new era
"For TripleNine, the new cleaning plant means that the plant has an extra leg to stand on. We can now ensure that our customers receive raw materials that fully meet the demands of the customers and the authorities with respect to dioxin content, which again results in that consumers have secure food.

"The plant also means that we can clean dioxin from  lots of other manufacturers. There is finally a chance for us to produce fishmeal with a higher content of protein, compared to current market values. So, all in all, the plant also provides for new business opportunities - and maybe for a new era - for TripleNine.