Test Design Lighthouse

Ecological balance of salmon farming and wild salmon fishing

Phase II: North East Atlantic and Chile

Partner: EcoTrust, Portland, USA

Participants: Academics from various international institutions, specialists

Ecology: Contribution to understanding the ecosystemic effects of fishing and fish production.

Economy: Optimisation of production conditions

Social aspects: Contribution to understanding the socio-economic effects of fishing and fish production.


  • Development of a plan to record significant system components
  • Data collection for an LCA
  • Transfer and validation of model to comparable regions

The influences that salmon farming, on the one hand, and wild salmon fishing, on the other, are subject to, taking into consideration the life cycle and socio-economic aspects in the North East Pacific and the implications that each economic form has on the marine environment. A methodological framework was developed to answer this question during the first phase of the project by Ecotrust, SIK - The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology and the School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University: Determination of functional units of analysis, of system limits, selection of categories of influential factors, planning of various ecological and biophysical excursuses, definition of a number of socio-economic indicators, development of available data from three study areas and the production of computer models. The first results provide information on differences between fish farming and traditional fishing as well as on different practices of farming.


In the second phase, which is supported by the Lighthouse Foundation, the tried and tested framework concept from the previous study in Alaska and British Columbia is transferred to the North East Atlantic (Scotland, Norway) and Chile. The study is based on a life cycle assessment, a method of environmental accounting that is standardised according to ISO 14.000 but which is rarely used for foodstuffs. This approach makes it possible to carry out a quantitative study of the relative environmental and social costs of different production systems.


Seen from a global perspective, wild salmon comes primarily from Alaska and the analysis of the fishing industry there differentiates between various catching methods. One form of cultivation technology predominates in aquaculture in all three main regions: floating net cages in open water that are managed from operating platforms. However, there are significant differences between the three regions, e.g. with regard to the composition of the fish feed used. In addition, there are also important experiments on alternative production techniques in British Columbia and Scotland, above all with closed systems on land as well as with biologic-organic fish feed and production processes.


The study is aimed at highlighting the environmental and social consequences of salmon production and to compare them both within and between the three main production areas. One significant question is whether, and how, salmon production can be improved in an environmentally compatible manner.


Co-operation and knowledge transfer with Chile in 2008

In February 2008, Stephany Gonzales from the Pontificia Catholic University of Valparaiso (PUCV) was a visitor at the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (SIK) where he took part in LCA training. This training includes the transmission of the methodological bases, an introduction

to the LCA software SimaPro as well as a comprehensive course on the inventory process for the LCA.


Back in Chile, Stephany Gonzales produced an inventory of Chilean salmon aquaculture and processing and was thereby able to fall back on direct contact with the industry as well as using statistics and reports from other sources. PUCV and SIK co-operated during this period particularly regarding questions arising from the inventory. This work was completed in June 2008 when the report was handed to SIK.


Professor Beatriz Cancino was one of the initiators and participants of the newly-formed LCA network in Chile. She is due to organise a conference on the subject of LCA in Chile in the first half of 2009 where Dr. Ulf Sonesson from SIK will probably present a lecture. The central part of the analysis has been completed and further project work will concentrate on the preparation of several publications. A communication plan was drawn up at a project meeting in November 2008 in San Francisco which will be published at the same time as the results of the project.




Project partner:

Astrid Scholz, Ph.D.

Vice President, Knowledge Systems


721 NW 9th Avenue, Suite 200

Portland, OR 97206