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Environ Manage. 2008 Nov;42(5):918-31. doi: 10.1007/s00267-008-9148-9. Epub 2008 May 28.

Life cycle considerations for improving sustainability assessments in seafood awareness campaigns.

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1
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 4R2. nathanpelletier@dal.ca

Abstract

It is widely accepted that improving the sustainability of seafood production requires efforts to reverse declines in global fisheries due to overfishing and to reduce the impacts to host ecosystems from fishing and aquaculture production technologies. Reflective of on-going dialogue amongst participants in an international research project applying Life Cycle Assessment to better understand and manage global salmon production systems, we argue here that such efforts must also address the wider range of biophysical, ecological, and socioeconomic impacts stemming from the material and energetic throughput associated with these industries. This is of particular relevance given the interconnectivity of global environmental change, ocean health, and the viability of seafood production in both fisheries and aquaculture. Although the growing popularity of numerous ecolabeling, certification, and consumer education programs may be making headway in influencing Western consumer perceptions of the relative sustainability of alternative seafood products, we also posit that the efficacy of these initiatives in furthering sustainability objectives is compromised by the use of incomplete criteria. An emerging body of Life Cycle Assessment research of fisheries and aquaculture provides valuable insights into the biophysical dimensions of environmental performance in alternative seafood production and consumption systems, and should be used to inform a more holistic approach to labeling, certifying, and educating for sustainability in seafood production. More research, however, must be undertaken to develop novel techniques for incorporating other critical dimensions, in particular, socioeconomic considerations, into our sustainability decision-making.

PMID:
18506514
DOI:
10.1007/s00267-008-9148-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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