Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Fish waste disposal

Waste disposal; fish wastefish waste disposal

What you must do


If you dispose of dead fish or shellfish or animal waste from, culling or on-site processing of fish or shellfish, you must meet the requirements of the Animal By-Products Regulations (ABPR). These regulations control collection, transport, storage, handling, processing, use and disposal of animal carcasses or parts of animal carcasses.

Animal by-products and food waste

You must not landfill or bury fish waste.


If you operate an on-farm incinerator that only burns on-farm fish mortalities and processing waste you must ensure the incinerator is approved by:

  • Animal & Plant Health Agency in Scotland
  • your local Divisional Veterinary Office in Northern Ireland.

Animal & Plant Health Agency

Northern Ireland: Divisional Veterinary Offices

If you incinerate animal waste, you may need a pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit from your environmental regulator or local council.

Pollution prevention and control permits

Ensiling in Scotland

In Scotland, ensiling macerated fish waste in formic acid is one of the main methods of waste disposal.

You may need a Pollution Prevention and Control permit from SEPA if you operate an ensiling facility or store dead fish or fish offal. If you only ensile and store very small quantities of fish waste, for example in a small ensiling unit at a shore base, a triviality exemption may apply to your site. Contact your local SEPA office for more information.

Contact your environmental regulator

SEPA Guidance on ensiling fish and fish offal (Adobe PDF - 42KB)

You must ensure that liquid wastes:

  • are stored securely on your site while they await disposal or recovery
  • cannot escape into drains, watercourses or surrounding ground
  • spills can be properly and effectively contained.

Good practice

Clean shells are classed as animal by-products, but there is an exemption that may allow you to use them as a marketable product for use in construction, drainage and gardening.

Further information

In Scotland, the Scottish Government has set up the Fish Waste Management Group (FWMG) to develop a more sustainable strategy for fish waste management.

Scottish Government: Sustainable fish waste management

Seafish.org: Information on the disposal of seafood waste

SEE ALSO: GPP 21 Pollution incident response plans, Duty of Care

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