Global reduction fisheries and their products in the context of sustainable limits
Cashion, T and Tyedmers, P and Parker, RWR, Global reduction fisheries and their products in the context of sustainable limits, Fish and Fisheries, 18, (6) pp. 1026-1037. ISSN 1467-2960 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Globally, one-sixth of landings from marine capture fisheries are destined for the production of fishmeal and fish oil (FMFO), which are currently overwhelming utilized by fed aquaculture. Many different species are used globally for the production of FMFO, but little concern has been given to the divergent environmental and ecological impacts of FMFO products based on species, ecosystem and fishing gear used in their capture. We evaluated the variable environmental performance of FMFO products from a wide range of fisheries whose products are either primarily intended for reduction or whose by-products are redirected to reduction. Assessed fisheries accounted for 44% of global reduction fishery landings in 2014. Analysis was conducted on the basis of two measures: the carbon footprint (i.e., greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions) and the marine footprint (i.e., primary production required [PPR]). We found large differences between the impacts of FMFO products across the 18 reduction fisheries examined. Cumulatively, we estimate that reduction fisheries emitted 4.6 million tonnes of CO2-e GHGs in 2014, and appropriated over 4% of primary production in some ecosystems, demonstrating a non-trivial impact. As demand for aquafeeds grow, the sustainable sourcing of raw material inputs will be of great importance. Results here suggest that the source of FMFO inputs can have dramatic effects on the environmental performance of fish feeds and fed aquaculture. We recommend further research on the environmental and ecological impacts of food production systems, and specifically to understand these results in relation to global production and sustainable boundaries.