A Scottish study comparing the carbon footprints of a variety of seafood products has concluded that mackerel and herring caught by the Scottish pelagic fleet are the idea food choice for environmentally conscious consumers.
The study was completed by Frances Sandison as part of her PhD studies, and funded by the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group, Shetland Islands Council, University of Aberdeen, University of the Highlands and Islands, and Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation.
The environmental impacts of pelagic fish caught by Scottish vessels concludes that UK farmed salmon has a 7.2 times higher carbon footprint that pelagic oily fish, while Norwegian caught cod and haddock are 3.5 and 3.9 times higher.
This study extends her earlier conclusions at the NAFC Marine Centre (part of the University of the Highlands and Islands), establishing that the carbon footprint of the Shetland mackerel trawl fishery was much lower compared to land-based meat production, including chicken, beef and pork. Seafood production in general has a lower carbon footprint than land-based meat production.
‘In Scotland we have access to a fantastically low impact, highly nutritious, locally caught source of protein. Compared to other meat sources the choice is clear for the environmentally conscious consumer – we should be eating more local pelagic fish,’ Frances Sandison said.
The key factor is fuel consumption during fishing. Enhancing fuel efficiency through innovations in vessel design and fishing practices, and a transition to alternative fuel sources are part of the Scottish pelagic sector’s efforts to minimise emissions.
‘We congratulate Frances on the successful completion of her research. For the Scottish pelagic sector there is a lot at stake with climate change, given that mackerel and herring have an established global trade that helps ensure food security as an affordable and nutritious protein in many parts of the world,’ commented Ian Gatt, chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group.
‘Scottish fishermen have invested heavily in modern vessels and fish handling systems, and processors in the latest equipment, to ensure a high quality, low carbon footprint product that can be delivered to market in the most efficient manner. Scottish mackerel and herring production really do tick all the right boxes when it comes to sustainability, nutrition, and low carbon footprint.’