Recirculating Aquaculture Is Possible without Major Energy Tradeoff: Life Cycle Assessment of Warmwater Fish Farming in Sweden

Summary

Seafood is seen as promising for more sustainable diets. The increasing production in land-based closed Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RASs) has overcome many local environmental challenges with traditional open net-pen systems such as eutrophication. The energy needed to maintain suitable water quality, with associated emissions, has however been seen as challenging from a global perspective.

This study uses Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to investigate the environmental performance and improvement potentials of a commercial RAS farm of tilapia and Clarias in Sweden. The environmental impact categories and indicators considered were freshwater eutrophication, climate change, energy demand, land use, and dependency on animal-source feed inputs per kg of fillet.

We found that feed production contributed most to all environmental impacts (between 67 and 98%) except for energy demand for tilapia, contradicting previous findings that farm-level energy use is a driver of environmental pressures. The main improvement potentials include improved by-product utilization and use of a larger proportion of plant-based feed ingredients. Together with further smaller improvement potential identified, this suggests that RASs may play a more important role in a future, environmentally sustainable food system.

Information

Link to centre authors: Henriksson, Patrik, Jonell, Malin, Troell, Max
Publication info: Bergman, K., Henriksson, P.J., Hornborg, S., Troell, M., Borthwick, L., Jonell, M., Philis, G. and Ziegler, F., 2020. Recirculating Aquaculture Is Possible without Major Energy Tradeoff: Life Cycle Assessment of Warmwater Fish Farming in Sweden. Environmental science & technology.

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