Aquaculture more eco-friendly than other proteins

Rainbow trout farming causes less damage to the environment than animal products such as beef, pork or chicken.

That’s the conclusion of a pioneering study involving rainbow trout producer IPEASA and fish feed manufacturer Skretting, conducted by the Technology Center of Miranda de Ebro (CTME) in Burgos, funded by Castilla y León Innovation Agency, Financing and Business Internationalization.

By quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from inland aquaculture, the project analyzed the carbon footprint of hatchery-reared rainbow trout resulting from different feeds, evaluating their contribution to the value chain and identifying sustainable measures for fish farmers and feed producers.

A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of trout quantified “cradle to grave” resource “inputs” such as energy, mass, raw materials, economic value, transport and “outputs” of wastes and emissions, from trout egg production and fry rearing, fattening to slaughter, processing into final product to disposal.

It found rainbow trout feed responsible for 80 percent of trout’s carbon footprint, a key factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the final product. Between 95 to 99 percent of the carbon footprint originates in raw materials associated with changes in land use, especially soy and bean production.

Working with Doctor Yolanda Nuñez, CTME Director Raúl de Saja explained: “LCA quantifies environmental impacts through industry standards ISO 14040 and ISO 14044. Taking into account changes in land use, results showed a carbon footprint of 4.81 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per kilogram of live trout and 5.07 kilograms of CO2e per kilogram of processed trout. Farmed trout is better placed in terms of emissions than animal products such as beef (18 kg of CO2e/kg), pork (14 kg of CO2e/kg) or chicken (about 8 kg of CO2e/kg).”

Feed composition depends on raw material availability over the year. Heavy speculative pricing determines supply which CTME conclude is unsustainable.

“At the rate of world population growth, to maintain at least the current level of aquatic food consumption per capita, the world will need an additional 23 million tons of such foods in 2020. This will come from aquaculture (FAO, 2012). Meeting future aquaculture demand depends on the availability of quality feed in the necessary quantities,” added de Saja.


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