20 Feb 2017

Developing an LCA Seafood Database:
the key to more sustainable fishing and fish production

Life Cycle Assessment Database for fish, shellfish and crustaceans

Currently there is no life cycle assessment (LCA) database for fish, shellfish and crustaceans, but there is a need for such a database among food industry professionals. Also, we observe a growing demand for complete environmental analyses of products. Whereas initially the focus was on carbon footprints or other specific analyses, there is now much more interest in obtaining an understanding of the complete product life cycle for multiple environmental impact categories. This demand is a response to various developments, particularly to the changes in environmental legislation, certification scheme requirements and questions from investors and consumers.

To help meet this demand the Norwegian Seafood Federation (Sjømat Norge) initiated the development of an LCA Seafood Database. This initiative is supported financially by The Norwegian Seafood Research Fund - FHF. Blonk Consultants has teamed with RISE Agrifood and Bioscience, SINTEF and Dalhousie University to develop the LCA Seafood Database.

Added value of reliable data

High-quality data are essential for making sound quantitative analyses. Calculating the environmental performance of products depends on having reliable data, but data of this quality are not yet available for fish, shellfish and crustaceans. This came to light during the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) pilot project on fish. PEF is a European project to devise a standard for LCA studies or Environmental Footprints of products. The proposed PEF method is a framework of requirements and principles for determining the environmental impact of products. The idea behind the method is that it will ensure a reliable result no matter who does the study. Finally, this will result in an European environmental label. In recent years pilot projects have been carried out for several products, including beer, olive oil and T-shirts. Fish was also one of the product groups selected for the PEF pilot projects, but it became clear during the studies that not enough LCA data were available for these products. In the end it was decided to stop these PEF pilot projects and take a step back. The focus is now on collecting data. The LCA Seafood Database will meet that need.

First steps

The LCA Seafood Database will eventually contain information on many of the freshwater and saltwater fish species caught or farmed for human consumption or for animal feed (reduction fisheries and by-products).
The first steps in the development of the database are setting up the structure of the database and the methodology. Several datasets will also be included in the Agri-footprint® database and the LCA database of the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI).

Application of the database

For the fish sector the database will ultimately be the prime resource for calculating environment performance. The database will provide clear guidelines for calculating and documenting the environmental performance of products, and will eventually be approved as one of the EU’s sector-specific Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs). The database will also provide information on how each fish species can be part of a healthy and sustainable diet. The information will also be suitable for the ASC and MSC labels and for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

About the partners

The development of the database is being financed by The Norwegian Seafood Research Fund - FHF . The Norwegian Seafood Federation (Sjømat Norge) iniated the development. And the database is being compiled by the LCA specialists at RISE Agrifood and Bioscience, SINTEF, Dalhousie University and Blonk Consultants.

More information

Do you want to know more about the LCA Seafood database?
Send an email to Jasper Scholten or call +31 (0)182 579770.

Jasper Scholten
Business Unit Manager | Consultants