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Global Salmon LCA — Phase I: North-East Pacific

What are the quantitative, life cycle environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with the provision of salmon for human consumption from the North-East Pacific? In answering this overarching question, this research will address a number of closely related sub-questions including:

  1. What are the life cycle impacts associated with contemporary commercial salmon fisheries in the NE Pacific, up to the point at which salmon are delivered to the dockside including differences that result from the three dominant fishing gears used in the region (purse seine, gillnet and troll)?
  2. What are the life cycle impacts associated with contemporary farmed salmon production in the NE Pacific up to the point of salmon delivered to the dockside?
  3. What additional impacts result from extending the analyses to include processing, storage, transporting, handling, retailing and consumption of three commonly found, consumer-ready product forms derived from both farmed or commercially caught fish (e.g. 500gm pack of smoked salmon, 200gm frozen fillet, etc.)?
  4. How do the impacts in 1, 2 and 3 above compare?
  5. Reflecting the growing interest in “green” (e.g. land-based) and organic alternative farmed salmon production systems, how would a shift to these modes of production alter the life cycle impacts?
World salmon production
NE Pacific salmon production (in metric tons)

Salmon were selected as the primary focus of this study because:

While it is our intention to ultimately expand this research to address impacts associated with salmon farming practices, and in particular differences in feed formulations, in the two dominant production regions globally, the NE Atlantic and Chile, the North-East Pacific (British Columbia and Alaska) is the obvious geographic focus for the initial phase of the research since all forms of capture fisheries and culture systems, including state-of-the art net pens, organic methods and land-based systems operate here.

Pertaining to concerns about ecological interactions of salmon production systems (such as disease transmission in the case of farming) in the study region, we expect this project to yield a range of ancillary results that may be of interest to local policy initiatives. In addition to expanding the LCA framework to incorporate a comparative category for biological impacts, we suspect that our empirical research on specific production systems will yield descriptive results that are relevant to siting decisions and regional policy initiatives. Similarly, the fieldwork will yield data and information on the financial specifications of various production systems, enhancing our understanding of the operating costs and business models associated with different salmon production systems in both capture fisheries and aquaculture.

Lensfest Oceans Program

Funding for this project has been generously provided by
the Lenfest Ocean Program of the Pew Charitable Trusts

Our Work

Ecotrust Knowledge Systems

Ecotrust Consulting Initiatives



Learn More

Global Salmon LCA Press Release, 11/23/09

With global food production, we’re swimming against the tide — Op-ed, 11/25/09

Global Salmon LCA Factsheets

Aquaculture Production | A4 size (352kb pdf)

A Life Cycle of Foods | A4 size (312kb pdf)

Closed Containment Aquaculture | A4 size (220kb pdf)



Phase I: NE Pacific

Phase II: NE Atlantic & Chile

Principals & Staff


Impact categories for life cycle assessment research of seafood production systems, Pelletier et al. (paper)

Life Cycle Considerations for Improving Sustainability Assessments in Seafood Awareness Campaigns, Pelletier and Tyedmers (paper)

Feeding farmed salmon: Is organic better?, Pelletier and Tyedmers (paper)

Assessing alternative aquaculture technologies, Ayer and Tyedmers (paper)

Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Salmon Fisheries and Aquaculture in the North-East Pacific (70kb pdf)

Life-Cycle Based Research in Food and Agriculture, Sonneson (356kb pdf)

Socioeconomic Indicators as a Complement to Life Cycle Assessment, Kruse (slideshare)


Kristen Sheeran
Acting Director,
Knowledge Systems
Economics for Equity and the Environment Network (E3)
tel: 503.467.0811
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The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology
Ulf Sonesson

SIK - The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology
PO Box 5401
S-402 29
Göteborg, Sweden
Tel: +46 (0)31-3355600

Dalhousise Univ
Peter Tyedmers

School for Resource and Environmental Studies
Dalhousie University
6100 University Ave.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3H 1W7
Tel: 902.494.6517


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