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Myth #6
Aquaculture has a high energy use

We live in a world of finite resources and fossil fuels are not only a finite resource, but have negative environmental impacts in their extraction and transportation. Fossil fuels also contribute to climate change when consumed through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Aquaculture is accused of having a high energy footprint which exacerbates these negative impacts. How do we define and measure energy usage and what information do we have on energy usage in aquaculture?

 

Co2-footprint of farmed fish is the same as wild catch

Energy usage and carbon footprints vary widely by species and system of production; however, there are some similarities. On land systems requiring pumping and aeration of water have higher energy inputs in the form of electricity or fuel. Small-scale aquaculture which is estimated at between 70 and 80% of total global aquaculture production has minimal energy inputs. Energy associated with inputs such as compound feed should also be considered. Commercial feed which contains foreign sourced ingredients such as fishmeal and fish oil versus locally sourced ingredients also increases the energy inputs. What determines efficiency is the ratio of energy inputs to the production of aquatic animal (or plant). The lower the ‘kilojoules’ per kilo of aquatic animal, the more efficient is the production system.  An example of the ‘carbon footprint’ of aquaculture versus other proteins is farmed salmon which has the same carbon footprint as wild capture cod, a slightly higher carbon footprint than chicken, slightly less than half the carbon footprint of pork and 1/10th the carbon footprint of beef. (SINTEF)[1]

 

Energy-efficient management with GLOBALG.A.P.

The GLOBALG.A.P. standard requires the tracking of on-farm energy usage to gain an understanding of consumption levels and energy efficiency. This is an important first step which is followed by a recommendation to develop a plan to further improve energy efficiencies. One example of how aquaculture is improving efficiencies is the trend of farms incorporating renewable energy sources such as solar panels to replace fossil fuel based energy sources.

Next time you go shopping consider the conservation of energy and how your purchase can help reduce GHG emissions in protein production, look for aquaculture products and GGN labelled products.

 

[1] https://www.cermaq.com/wps/wcm/connect/005476d0-c149-4aab-83a9-9a663bb9e61f/FS_carbon+footprint_2012.10.18.pdf?MOD=AJPERES