An Alaskan fishing company’s quest for sustainable seafood

Innovative technology helps Westward Seafoods cut energy costs, meet strict environmental legislation and create value from waste.

DATE 2023-11-28 AUTHOR Greg Mcivor

Dedicated to minimizing its eco-footprint, Westward Westward Seafoods works to stay ahead of the curve in an industry where waste and pollution are subject to increasingly tight regulation by the US Environmental Protection Agency. For the company, these efforts are a win-win solution.

One area where the company is focusing its attention is a factory by-product known as 'stick water'. This is a liquid mix of water and suspended fish oil and residue that is left over from seafood processing at the company's Westward Seafoods' plant in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The company approached Alfa Laval for advice on how to clean its stick water – the idea being to protect the environment while generating additional revenue. By separating the fish oil from the stick water; you clean the water and get valuable fish oil to use for other purposes. The oil can then be used for omega3 supplements as well as an alternative to diesel.

FACTS - Sustaining the yield – Alaska's model

Alaska's commitment to sustainable fishing dates back to 1959, when the Alaska Constitution decreed that "fish... be utilized, developed and maintained on the sustained yield principle".

Ever since, the state's fisheries – which produce about 50 percent of US seafood production – have been an international beacon for precautionary resource management through a combination of tough regulation, close monitoring and strict enforcement.

A battery of measures ensures that stocks remain healthy and self-sustaining. Strict limits on total catch and bycatch – the unintended capture of non-target species – are a key tool.

Some fisheries also limit the size of fishing boats, and virtually all limit the type of equipment that can be used and zones in which fishing can take place.

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PRODUCT - Alfa Laval AFPX centrifugal separator

Alfa Laval AFPX separatorHigh capacity solids-ejecting centrifuge for the animal and fish processing industries, specially designed for extremely demanding separation jobs.

Key features of the AFPX range of centrifuges are their ability to handle:

  • high flow rates
  • high solids content
  • high-temperature processing

These functions make it the ideal choice to handle the tough conditions encountered in the animal and fish processing industries. In addition, the AFPX 517 centrifuge combines a high G-force, high sludge capabilities and automated operation. 

Alfa Laval AFPX centrifugal separator

FACTS - 5 facts about The Great Land

  • Alaska has 75,600km of coastline on three oceans: the Arctic, the Pacific and the Bering Sea.
  • There are more active glaciers and ice fields in Alaska than in the rest of the inhabited world.
  • The US purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7,200,000 (about 2 cents an acre)
  • The name of Alaska comes from the Aleut word Alyeska, meaning The Great Land.
  • The state flag was designed by a 13-year-old in a school competition.
It's a real win-win, especially when you consider that producers simply used to release this wastewater into the sea."
For many years, we have been losing valuable fish oil – between 1 and 1.5 percent. While we were using polisher and oil separators, these were not designed to completely remove 100 percent of the oil from stick water."