How sustainable is that fish on your plate? New study explores the environmental impacts of aquatic foods – Dal News

Alison AuldSeptember 21, 2021
Consumers keen on reaping the health benefits of a diet heavy in aquatic or other so-called ‘blue foods’ often turn to the fish counter rather than the butcher, choosing products high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and protein. They may also be opting for seafood in a bid to reduce their environmental footprint.
But how much is known about the toll the production of blue foods has on the environment? And do some species have a smaller environmental impact than others?
A landmark study led by researchers at Dalhousie University and several other international institutes is answering those important questions by assessing how the production of aquatic animals and plants affects the environment, while highlighting the significant unfulfilled potential for aquaculture to become more sustainable.
The research, called the “Environmental performance of blue foods,” was one of five initial scientific papers published today in Nature as part of the Blue Food Assessment (BFA).

Peter Tyedmers, a co-author and professor in Dalhousie’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies, says the core objective was to use the best available data to estimate how capture fisheries and aquaculture contribute to environmental stressors, like greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), nitrogen and phosphorous emissions, and land and water use.
“Our results highlight not only the large differences in environmental impacts between and within major sources of blue foods across these environmental stressors, but confirm the important role that many blue foods can play in reducing the impacts of human diets,” says Dr. Tyedmers.
“Blue food systems represent important opportunities to potentially reduce impacts of omnivorous diets. However, it is important to recognize that there is substantial variation amongst blue food choices. As importantly, the variation often points to opportunities to manage systems to reduce their impacts going forward.”
The authors produced the most standardized assessment of the environmental pressures stemming from ‘blue food’ production to date. It covers nearly three quarters of global production and draws on studies reporting data from more than 1,690 fish farms and 1,000 unique fishery records worldwide.
The researchers looked at key inputs, such as fuel, used in capture fisheries and those for aquaculture, including feed, energy, water and land for production. Given the highly variable nature of the data, they used statistical techniques to estimate the average values of the stressors for each group.
The paper found that seaweeds and farmed bivalves, such as mussels and oysters, generate the fewest GHG and nutrient emissions like phosphorous and nitrogen, and use the least land and water per unit of edible food produced. Capture fisheries also result in few nutrient emissions and use limited to no land and water. Compared to farmed fish, however, the researchers found greenhouse gas emissions from capture fisheries range from relatively low, for such species as sardines and cod, to relatively high for flatfish and lobsters.
“Relatively higher GHG emission sources of seafood include fisheries for flatfish species, crustaceans and some bivalve species and farmed marine fish, tilapia and shrimp,” says Dr. Tyedmers.
Commonly eaten farmed finfish, such as salmon and carp, outperform other farmed blue foods on several environmental indicators, while most blue foods outperform chicken, which generates similar environmental pressures as tilapia, one of the more impactful blue foods assessed.

This new set of standardized metrics can be used to benchmark the environmental impacts of blue foods to steer future production toward lower emissions and resource use — key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals when it comes to ocean health.
“With demand for blue foods rising around the world, we need a better understanding of how the environmental pressures compare across this diverse group of foods so we can ensure we are eating not just nutritiously, but also sustainably,” said Jessica A. Gephart, lead author and researcher at American University.
The paper also highlighted the potential of many subsectors, such as carp and milkfish, to improve their environmental performance through better farm management, efforts that reduce feed inputs and innovative technological interventions. Capture fisheries also have potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved management and optimizing gear types.
This research fills gaps in previous studies on the environmental stresses associated with food production, which often exclude blue foods. When blue foods are included, they are often lumped together, overlooking the vast range of species in the sector.
The study, which is an international joint initiative bringing together 18 scientists from 18 institutions across nine countries, will ultimately allow businesses, certifiers, NGOs, consumers and other interested parties to make more informed decisions about how to support sustainable blue foods.
Dal News welcomes discussion from members of the Dalhousie community and beyond, but urge comment writers to be respectful and refrain from personal attacks. False or unsubstantiated allegations, libellous statements and offensive language are not allowed. External links must be appropriate and relevant to the subject being discussed.
We encourage commenters to use their real first and last names.
Please note that comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of Dal News or Dalhousie University but only of the comment writer. The editors reserve the right to post, or not to post comments, edit or not edit, at their discretion.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada  B3H 4R2
Agricultural Campus
Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada  B2N 5E3
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2


153 thoughts on “How sustainable is that fish on your plate? New study explores the environmental impacts of aquatic foods – Dal News”

  1. Its such as you read my thoughts! You appear to know so much
    about this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I feel that you just can do with a few p.c. to pressure the message house a bit, but other than that, that is magnificent blog.
    A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  2. I do accept as true with all of the ideas
    you have presented in your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work.
    Still, the posts are very short for beginners.
    May you please extend them a little from subsequent time?

    Thank you for the post.

  3. This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog
    (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job. I really enjoyed what you
    had to say, and more than that, how you presented
    it. Too cool!

  4. You’re so awesome! I don’t suppose I’ve read through a single thing like this
    before. So nice to discover someone with some unique thoughts on this subject.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that’s needed on the web, someone with some originality!

  5. I blog frequently and I genuinely thank you for your content.

    Your article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your
    blog and keep checking for new information about once a week.
    I subscribed to your Feed too.

  6. I’m now not certain where you are getting your information, however good topic.
    I must spend a while studying much more or figuring out more.
    Thanks for magnificent information I was searching for
    this info for my mission.

  7. My developer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.

    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.

    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type
    on a number of websites for about a year and am anxious about
    switching to another platform. I have heard great things about

    Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?

    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  8. Hey there! I understand this is sort of off-topic but I had
    to ask. Does managing a well-established blog such as yours require a large amount of work?

    I am brand new to running a blog however I do write in my journal daily.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and views
    online. Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new
    aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

  9. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I
    clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr…

    well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted
    to say great blog!

  10. Pingback: 3violate

  11. Hi! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My website looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to
    fix this problem. If you have any recommendations,
    please share. Thanks!

  12. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum
    it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any points for first-time blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  13. This is the perfect blog for everyone who really wants
    to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its
    almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic which has been written about for decades.
    Great stuff, just excellent!

    My web-site coupon

  14. Hello, Neat post. There’s a problem with your web site in web explorer, might test
    this? IE nonetheless is the market leader and a large part of folks will miss your wonderful writing because of this

  15. Hi there! Quick question that’s completely off topic. Do you know how
    to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my
    apple iphone. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue.
    If you have any recommendations, please share. Thank you!

  16. Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?

    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content.

    Please let me know. Many thanks

  17. First off I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if
    you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting
    my ideas out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing however it
    just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just
    trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.