As a significant source of protein, energy and nutrients, fish meat has become a preferred choice for people’s daily consumption. Otherwise, fish meat has high unsaturated fats which benefits people’s health. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 17% of world’s protein is obtained from fish. However, fish guts, fish skins and other parts of fish are disposed as a waste byproduct in the ocean feeding the scavenger or they are buried in sand to enrich the soil. Our society is currently experiencing constraints imposed by our resource system, which drives industry to increase its overall efficiency by improving existing processes or finding new uses for waste (Lin 2013). Currently, researchers and scientists reveal pioneering ways to transform fish guts into feeds, fertilizers, raw materials of chemicals and fossil fuels. Entrepreneurs convert fish skins into fashionable, stylish fish leather products such as stingray wallets, salmon belts, tilapia bracelets and keyholders. Utilizing 100% of the fish and keeping the seafood industry sustainable is the primary goal among this global industry.
Fish leather, a durable, strong and resistant product, can trace back thousands of years in China. Making leather from fish skins is an historical craft for many coastal cultures. People use different kinds of fish leather products for their daily use. Fish leather baskets are used to store food and tools because of their odor-free and strength characteristics. Furthermore, fish leather dressing is a traditional dress for many coastal cultures because of its water-resistant characteristics. Eco-friendly fish leather is made from skin of non-endangered fish species that are discarded by the seafood industry. This natural byproduct can be remodeled and repurposed into an innovative and luxurious fish leather business through modern tannery, which utilizes sustainable, renewable and green processes to produce fish leather.
Additionally, the fish leather business is not widespread nor recognized in many parts of the world. Most of the fish leather businesses remain as small-scale business or affiliated capsule projects in established companies. Many well-known brands have tested and invested certain fish leather such as tilapia, salmon, cod and stingray leather. For example, Bottega Veneta, a high-end and luxurious brand from Italy, crafted an exquisite stingray wallet. Even Nike is investing a line using fish leather in the manufacture of their shoes. However, there are other raw fish skins that remain unexplored such as cobia, barramundi and mahi which have attractive and stunning color and texture. Thus, continuing to explore new raw materials of fish skins could transform more waste byproducts into profitable and usable products, which enhance and improve the seafood industry sustainability over the long term.
New technologies are developed to improve the efficiency of the seafood production in every step including larval rearing, nursery and grow-out. Newly developed artificial pellets, powders, nutritional liquids were used to replace the live feeds such as Artemia, sardines and squids. Thus, plentiful fishes are produced by sea farms in many parts of the world as well as the fish leather. Transforming the byproducts of non-endangered fish into profitable products could benefit fisheries, aquaculture industry, manufactory, fashion industry and other communities.
The objective of this project is to analyze, identify and market the cobia, barramundi and mahi fish skins, which will be tanned, dyed and transformed into fish leather. Sample skin leather will be sent to inventive designers to create a blueprint of the fashion products including wallets, belts, bracelets and keyholders. Then, the products will be sent to manufacturers or hand-makers to fabricate the prototype of the products.
The raw fish skin will be tanned and dyed into different colors such as blue, red, yellow and mixed colors. Inventive designers from Italy and New York will create a blueprint of each design including wallets, belts, bracelets and keyholders based on the color and texture of the tanned fish leather. Machine-made and hand-crafted manufacturing process will be compared to select a profitable and beneficial process based on the target market.
A questionnaire will be conducted to define specific regions of markets and generation of customers. Moreover, a phase 1 business plan will be implemented to determine the expected results, detailed cash flow and budget of this project. Different prototypes of fish leather products will examine the market acceptability.
FAO. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture: Contributing to Food Security and Nutrition for All. Geneva: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2016. Web.
Lin, C. S. K., Pfaltzgraff, L. A., Herrero-Davila, L., Mubofu, E. B., Abderrahim, S., Clark, J. H., Luque, R. (2013). Food waste as a valuable resource for the production of chemicals, materials and fuels. current situation and global perspective. Energy & Environmental Science, 6(2), 426-464. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c2ee23440h