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Zeke’s Landing Marina pioneers fish recycling program

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Jul 16,  2012

(ORANGE BEACH, Ala.) -- Zeke’s Landing Marina, the first Clean Marina in Alabama, and Protein Products, Inc. (PPI), a leader in servicing premier pet food companies, have created a way to keep fish carcasses from being taken to landfills.

A newly launched fish recycling program, sponsored in part by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC), is repurposing fish parts that are left behind after charter boat crews clean their customers’ catch. The marina, located in Orange Beach, Ala., is working with PPI to turn the fish waste into pet food.

“Traditionally, the fish carcasses have gone inside two garbage bags and then gone in a daily dump trash receptacle,” said Tom Steber, general manager of Zeke’s Landing Marina. “Now, we place the carcasses into a refrigerated trailer. When it’s almost full, arrangements are made for the trailer to be picked up at night. It’s carried off along with the smell.”

The refrigerated trailer is lined with large bins, also known as totes, that each hold anywhere from 2,400 to 3,000 pounds of fish carcasses. The marina saves around $500 a week because it no longer uses large garbage bags, Steber said, and it keeps about 60,000 pounds of fish out of landfills each week.

PPI picks up the trailer and takes it to its manufacturing plant in Sunflower, Miss., where the fish are recycled, in a process known as rendering, into pet food products.

Lance Poole, raw materials buyer for PPI, said that PPI cares about the quality of its ingredients.

“I will be educating and working with individuals [and companies] on how we can make a better, cleaner process for all of us,” Poole said.

Phillip West, environmental programs manager of Orange Beach, and Chris Blankenship, director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division, are a great support in the recycling efforts, said the project coordinator, Christian Miller, a MASGC extension specialist.

“This project has potential to be very beneficial long-term from several respects,” Miller said. “This is material that has been going into landfills at a great expense to the marinas. This is a much more sustainable solution. It reduces operational costs, provides a value-added product and reduces impacts on area waterways from improper disposal of fish carcasses. ”

For more information on recycling fish, contact Miller at (251) 438-5690 or Christian@auburn.edu.

*Mindy Phillips is a student at The University of Southern Mississippi and an MASGC writer intern.*

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