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A few years ago Point Judith scallop captain Michael Marchetti had a conversation with Peg Parker, the executive director of the Rhode Island-based Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation. They talked about scallop guts, or viscera, the part of the animal that every scallop boat tosses overboard as an unused byproduct, saving only the white meats that end up on dinner plates. “Michael was interested in coming up with ways to use the viscera that might benefit the fishing industry,” Parker said.
Parker made the introduction between Marchetti and University of Rhode Island food scientist Chong Lee. What followed was an $88,000 grant from the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, a grant that enabled Lee to log hours in his laboratory looking at the potential of scallop viscera.
Now, two years later, the research is over and the science is open for peer review. Sea Grant Rhode Island also has come aboard as another sponsor of the project.
The gut reaction: Lee found scallop viscera, when made into a hydrolysate (a process using steam to break down the proteins within the viscera and ultimately creating a powder or liquid) to have beneficial properties for the aquaculture industry as a kind of super food. He found the scallop viscera hydrolysate (SVH) would be especially valuable as a specialty food for hatcheries that raise larval-stages and juvenile fish of various species.
“Because of how quickly worldwide aquaculture is growing, there is much demand – and research – for specialty feeds,” said Lee.
After conducting experiments, Lee and his researchers found that SVH might give a boost to a fish’s immune system, or act as a growth stimulant. More importantly, the SVH tastes good. Lee saw the fish in an experiment – juvenile summer flounder and European sea bass – preferred the blend of SVH and fishmeal to straight traditional fishmeal and soy.
“This is very important to fish farmers. They all want their fish to eat well and grow quickly,” Lee said.