Last November, Chilkoot Fish and Caviar Inc. of Haines was hit with a complaint by the EPA that could cost the company the maximum civil penalty of $177,500 for continuously violating its waste discharge permit under the Clean Water Act over a period of four years.
In January 2007, Deep Creek Custom Packaging Inc. of Ninilchik was fined $10,500 by the EPA, also for improperly disposing of fish waste.
Under Clean Water Act regulations, fish processors must grind their waste to a size of a half-inch or less before discharge. Even under proper disposal, however, fish waste can impact the environment by creating “dead zones,” essentially sucking out oxygen needed for live fish to thrive.
The crackdown on fish waste discharges is of special concern for small companies that process less than 25 tons per day that cannot afford the multi-million dollar price tags for equipment deployed at large-scale operations that separates, dries and grinds waste into fishmeal for sale as a byproduct to the agriculture and aquaculture industries.
This is where entrepreneurs like Sandro Lane and Leo Pedersen and scientists such as Scott Smiley and Peter Bechtel come in. Lane and Pedersen have found creative ways to simultaneously turn previously discarded fish waste into economically valuable products while aiding small processors.