Marine collagen in hoki skin has particular properties that Plant & Food Research scientists can exploit for electrospinning.

Listen to this RNZ audio: Adding value to hoki skin to discover more.

Duration: 13:18

Collagen is a protein with many functions. It’s found in the skin, bone, tendons and around muscles. It has many roles, such as anchoring cells, cell communication, and storing and releasing proteins.

Finding new uses for fish skin

Hoki is New Zealand’s largest commercial fishery, with an annual quota of 120,000 tonnes. Once you take out all the fillets, there’s a lot of fish skin left over. About 40% of that ends up as byproducts such as skin, and scientists at Plant & Food Research in Nelson have been investigating ways of turning that low-value product into high-value goods.

Fish skin is high in collagen

Fish skin consists mainly of type I collagen – a rod-shaped molecule wrapped in a triple helix that has a structural role. Kathleen Hofman and Susan Marshall tell Alison Ballance about the particular properties of marine collagen and show her an electrospinning machine that turns collagen from fish skin into nanofibres that can be used, for example, as filters in home ventilation systems.

Other uses of fish waste

You can listen to a previous Our Changing World interview New uses for marine by-products, with Susan Marshall and Matt Miller from Plant & Food Research's Natural Extracts team about other work to identify novel high-value uses for molecules found in fish waste, such as omega-3 and industrial enzymes.

Programme details: Our Changing World

    Published 18 May 2011