Recirculating aquaculture is possible without major energy tradeoff: Life cycle assessment of warmwater fish farming in Sweden
Abstract: 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.
Citation: Bergman, K., P.J.G. Henriksson, S. Hornborg, M. Troell, L. Borthwick, M. Jonell, G. Philis, and F. Ziegler 2020. Recirculating aquaculture is possible without major energy tradeoff: Life cycle assessment of warmwater fish farming in Sweden. Environmental Science & Technology 54(24):16062-16070
Keywords: Aquaculture, Animal feed, Electrical energy, Energy,Animal derived food