Is Seafood Contributing to the Greenhouse Gas Emission Problem?

A new study shows greenhouse gas emissions from seafood have drastically spiked due to the demand for shrimp and lobster.

Since 1990, consumer preference for traditional net-caught fish has changed to the preference for shellfish. According to The Independent, there has been a huge spike in pollution as a result of the way shellfish are caught. Most seafood out there has a carbon footprint similar to the footprint of chicken. However, shellfish can be as harmful to the environment as lamb and beef are. An estimated 18% of greenhouse gas emissions are associated with livestock production, including 9% carbon dioxide, 37% methadone, and 65% nitrous dioxide.

Emissions from the fishing industry have gone up by nearly 30% between the years of 1990 and 2011. Even though that number has gone up, the gross amount of seafood caught stayed the same. Scientists think the reason for this is the increased demand for expensive seafood.

Emissions from fishing are still at an all-time high due to the fuel that is needed to power fishing boats. Researchers took fuel consumption data from fisheries around the world between the year 1990 and 2011. Their results were published in Nature Climate Change.

Their results found that nations who were most focused on crustaceans, which consists of lobsters, shrimp, and crabs, had the highest carbon intensive fleets. Dr. Friederike Ziegler, a fisheries expert at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, spoke with The Independent about the findings. Note that he was not involved in the study.

“The fact that crustaceans are high in energy use is not a surprise,” Dr. Ziegler said. “What this paper adds is the development over time – the actual composition of landings and the preferences have changed, and in some parts of the world for example in fishing grounds on the Swedish west coast you have a shift from ground fish to crustaceans.”

Despite the generally small overall contribution, researchers suggest an urgent need to take a look at the greenhouse gas emissions coming from fishing.

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