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Evaluating European imports of Asian aquaculture products using statistically supported life cycle assessments

Promotor: Prof.dr. G.R. de Snoo

P.J.G. Henriksson
12 november 2015
Thesis in Leiden Repository

This thesis aims to evaluate the environmental sustainability of European imports of farmed aquatic food products from Asia, using life cycle assessment (LCA). Farming of Asian tiger prawn, whiteleg shrimp, freshwater prawn, tilapia and pangasius catfish in Bangladesh, China, Thailand and Vietnam were chosen as representatives of the Asian aquaculture industry. Initial research revealed large discrepancies among LCA results driven by methodological choices and data sourcing. A protocol for quantifying dispersions around unit process data was therefore developed, characterising inherent uncertainty, spread (variability) and unrepresentativeness as the three major sources driving overall discrepancies. Results, propagated using Monte Carlo simulations, highlighted that the uncertainty related to LCA results could range with over an order of magnitude. For comparative purposes, however, only relative uncertainties are of relevance. Defining a hypothesis and using dependent sampling therefore allowed for several significant conclusions to be identified. Among these were significantly lower environmental impacts of Asian tiger shrimp farming in western Bangladesh, tilapia in Guangdong and pangasius in large-scale farms. Common environmental hot-spots included aqua-feeds, eutrophying effluents from farms, the use of benzalkonium chloride and other chlorine releasing compounds as disinfectants, and extensive use of paddle-wheels on shrimp farms. The research identified discrepancies.

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