The environmental impact of plaice and cod caught wild in the North Sea is similar to that of imported farmed fish like salmon, tilapia and pangasius. This was the conclusion arrived at by LEI, part of Wageningen UR, in a study published last week. It is expected that there will be a considerable reduction in the environmental impact of plaice and cod fishing following the application of technological innovations.
The results of the life cycle analysis (LCA) performed by LEI show that there are no significant differences between energy use and the emission of greenhouse gases (which cause climate change) of plaice and cod fishing on the one hand and salmon, tilapia and pangasius on the other hand. The use of fertilizers is much lower in the case of wild caught fish than among the farmed fish species studied.
Although fishing for plaice and cod uses more energy than the production of meat, the contribution to greenhouse gas production is comparable to that of pork. This is because the production of meat is associated with emissions of other greenhouse gases besides CO2, such as methane. Fish scores better than beef, but chicken scores slightly better than fish.
This study describes the environmental impact of the Dutch fisheries sector. The score of North Sea fish could improve significantly due to the potential of the fisheries sector to achieve further fuel savings. The continued implementation of innovation projects in the fisheries should result in considerable improvements.
Explore further: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance
More information: Report: Environmental performance of wild-caught North Sea whitefish; A comparison with aquaculture and animal husbandry using LCA