Study finds that making other seafood from Alaska pollack is the worst for the environment than fishing
Fish fingers may seem harmless, but the small food creates an enormous ecological footprint.
A new study has shown that transforming Alaska Pollock into fish fingers, imitation crab and fish fillets generates almost twice the emission of greenhouse gases in the fishing itself.
The team noted that catching the fish is a “relatively fuel-efficient fishing”, but then it is shipped in massive containers that burn poor-quality bunker fuel that produces high amounts of sulfur particles.
The study, conducted by a team from the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC), analyzed the largely overlooked process of making certain seafood.
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A new study has shown that transforming Alaska Pollock into fish fingers, imitation crab and fish fillets generates almost twice as much emissions as greenhouse gases
Brandi McKuin, a post-doctoral researcher in environmental studies at UCSC, said: “The food system is a major source of global greenhouse gas emissions and Alaskan coalfish is one of the largest fisheries in the world.”
Alaskan Pollock is a huge market because it is processed into other foods, including fish fingers, imitation crab and fillets.
Fishing for this creature is relatively environmentally friendly, because large nets can catch an enormous amount of fish in one go.
However, the post-process is what contributes to climate change.
The catch is loaded in large sea containers that burn an enormous amount of fuel, most of which is cheap, poor quality bunker fuel that produces large quantities of sulfur particles.
And McKuin explains that sulfur oxides from marine fuels have a climate-cooling effect.
The team noted that catching the fish is a “relatively fuel-efficient fishing”, but it is then shipped in huge (stock) containers that burn poor-quality bunker fuel that produces high amounts of sulfur particles
“Seafood products being exported have a lower climate impact than domestic seafood products,” she said, adding that the climate effects of shipping will change this year as new regulations for cleaner marine fuels come into force.
“Shipping has a huge impact on the climate and a shift to cleaner fuels will reduce the cooling effect of sulfur oxides and increase the climate impact of products undergoing transocean shipping, including seafood.”
Coauthor Elliot Campbell, professor of environmental studies at UCSC, is a pioneer in data-driven methods for assessing the climate impact of food production.
“This study underscores the need to extend our vision to the entire supply chain,” he said. “It is not enough just to watch fish. The image is much larger and much more complicated. “
Organizations such as Seafood Watch have developed tools to calculate the carbon footprint of seafood, but have not yet included processing, McKuin noted, adding: “This study adds more data so that they can make a better tool.”
A separate study published in December 2019 revealed the carbon footprint of eating out.
Alaskan Pollock (photo) is a huge market because it is processed into other food, including fish fingers, imitation crab and fillets
Families who often eat out and consume large amounts of sweets and alcohol probably have a larger CO2 footprint than meat eaters, a study claims.
Researchers came to this conclusion after studying the dietary habits and carbon footprints of about 60,000 households in Japan.
They discovered that meat consumption usually accounts for only 10 percent of the differences in environmental impact between households with or with little carbon.
Households with a high CO2 footprint, on the other hand, usually consumed about two to three times more sweets and alcohol than households with a low footprint
Eating out, for example, turned out to contribute 175 percent more CO2 emissions to the average household than eating meat.
Dining in restaurants even yielded an annual average of 770 kilograms (121 stone) of greenhouse gases for the environmental impacts of households with a high carbon footprint.
Meat consumption, on the other hand, only cost 280 kilograms (44 stones).