Environmental impacts of trout farming – the life cycle analysis approach

We were fascinated to read a recent article via SeafoodSource.com explaining research that shows rainbow trout farming causes less damage to the environment than the farming of animal products such as beef, pork or chicken.

Their article reports that this is 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 and funded by Castilla y León Innovation Agency, Financing and Business Internationalization.

By quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from inland aquaculture, the project analysed 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).”

We all know the saying that “one swallow does not make a summer”, and this report is just one of many that relates to the relative environmental impacts of different farming and husbandry systems. However, BTA are pleased to see that greater emphasis is now being placed on the total environmental impact of fish farming, relative to other issues such as total resource use – especially when such research demonstrates we are proven to have a lesser total impact than other proteins.

Developed by the industry for the industry QTUK ensures the highest standards in farmed trout production, addressing traceability, product quality, food safety, fish health and welfare and best farming practice throughout the supply chain.