Assessment of the environmental impact of carnivorous finfish production systems using life cycle assessment

TitleAssessment of the environmental impact of carnivorous finfish production systems using life cycle assessment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsAubin, J, Papatryphon E, van der Werf HMG, Chatzifotis S
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Pages354 - 361
KeywordsEnvironmental impacts, Fish farming, Life cycle assessment, Production systems

When evaluating the environmental impacts of finfish production systems, both regional impacts (e.g., eutrophication) and global impacts (e.g., climate change) should be taken into account. The life cycle assessment (LCA) method is well suited for this purpose. Three fish farms that represent contrasting intensive production systems were investigated using LCA: rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in freshwater raceways in France, sea-bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) in sea cages in Greece, and turbot (Scophtalmus maximus) in an inland re-circulating system close to the seashore in France. Two main characteristics differentiated the three farm systems: feed use and energy use. Emission of nitrogen and phosphorus accounted for more than 90% of each farm's potential eutrophication impact. In the trout and sea-bass systems, feed production was the major contributor to potential climate change and acidification impacts and net primary production use (NPPU). In these systems, the main source of variation for environmental impacts was the feed conversion ratio. Results from this study indicate that the sea-bass cage system was less efficient than the trout raceway system, with a higher level of potential eutrophication (65% greater) and NPPU (15% greater). The turbot re-circulating system was a high energy-consumer compared to the trout raceway system (four times higher) and the sea-bass cage system (five times higher). Potential climate change and acidification impacts were largely influenced by energy consumption in the turbot re-circulating system. In the turbot re-circulating system 86% of energy use was due to on-site consumption, while in the sea-bass cage farming system 72% of energy use was due to feed production. These results are discussed in relation to regional contexts of production and focus attention on the sensitivity of each aquatic environment and the use of energy carriers. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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