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June 8, 2018

 

Aquaculture, a potential bigger emitter of greenhouse gases than cattle rearing

 


Aquaculture, when carried out in certain ways, could produce more methane and other greenhouse gases than rearing cattle, according to findings by researchers at Oxford University and Swiss agricultural research institute, Agroscope.


The findings are developed with help of the most comprehensive database yet on environmental impacts of close to 40,000 farms, and 1,600 processors, packaging types, and retailers. This information allows the researchers to determine how various production practices and geographies lead to different environmental impacts for 40 major foods.


In their study, the researchers had discovered a significant differences in impact between producers of the same product. For instance, 105kg of CO2 equivalents are created by 'high-impact' beef producers, as well as using 370m2 of land per 100 grams of protein - which is 12 and 50 times greater than 'low-impact' beef producers.
 
While aquaculture has been thought to be a low CO2 emitter, it was actually found to be capable of emitting more methane and greenhouse gases than cows per kilogramme of liveweight.


This discovery of various environmental impacts is based on an assessment which takes into account relevant factors including water use, eutrophication, and acidification.


"Two things that look the same in the shops can have very different impacts on the planet. This variability isn't fully recognised in strategies and policy aimed at reducing the impacts of farmers," said Joseph Poore from the Department of Zoology and the School of Geography and Environment.


"Food production creates immense environmental burdens, but these are not a necessary consequence of our needs. They can be significantly reduced by changing how we produce and what we consume."

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