Extra strong fish leather

18 June 2005

Fish skin leather can achieve the same strength as kangaroo while shark leather is claimed to be six times stronger. 'You can take three strips of tanned salmon skin, braid it together and it has enough strength to pull a car', says one report. Andrew MacDermott who runs Mermaid Leather in Western Australia says his tannery uses 1-2% of the total amount of waste skins dumped in their local region each year, keeping the business operating six days a week all year round. A former commercial fisherman, he says: 'We are happy to maintain the small-scale status of our tannery but it would not surprise me if out of China we one day saw a whole flood of $2.50 sandals made of fish skin.' He added: 'The potential, I believe, is there. International customers have increased for us and we now export to the US and several central European countries.' Mermaid use a variety of tanning processes. A chrome process is used for leather destined for swimwear to give a waterproof leather while, at the opposite extreme, a process using the bark of the local Marri Red Gum tree provides a vegetable tanned leather.

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