Knowledge for better food systems

Life cycle measures in feed production for salmon aquaculture

In "Life cycle measures of biophysical sustainability in feed production for conventional and organic salmon aquaculture in the northeast pacific" it was found that the cumulative impacts of industrial society's high material/energy throughput compromise the stability of planetary biogeochemical cycles.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provides a framework for quantifying how industrial products/processes contribute to these macroscale human/environment interactions. This thesis explores the strengths and weaknesses of using LCA to understand and improve sustainability in seafood production, and undertakes a Life Cycle Assessment of alternative feed production scenarios for conventional and organic salmon aquaculture.

It was found that the environmental impacts of feed production could be reduced by decreasing the fraction of animal-derived ingredients employed, and that current standards for organic salmon aquaculture actually compromise biophysical sustainability in this industry. Moreover, it is proposed that achieving sustainability in aquaculture (and industrial society, generally) requires recognition of the finite nature of resources and the limited capacity of ecosystems to absorb waste and respond to change. Such recognition highlights the desirability of developing maximally eco-efficient production technologies.

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