We investigated aquaculture production of Asian tiger shrimp, whiteleg shrimp, giant river prawn, tilapia, and pangasius catfish in Bangladesh, China, Thailand, and Vietnam by using life cycle assessments (LCAs), with the purpose of evaluating the comparative eco-efficiency of producing different aquatic food products. Our starting hypothesis was that different production systems are associated with significantly different environmental impacts, as the production of these aquatic species differs in intensity and management practices. In order to test this hypothesis, we estimated each system's global warming, eutrophication, and freshwater ecotoxicity impacts. The contribution to these impacts and the overall dispersions relative to results were propagated by Monte Carlo simulations and dependent sampling. Paired testing showed significant (p <0.05) differences between the median impacts of most production systems in the intraspecies comparisons, even after a Bonferroni correction. For the full distributions instead of only the median, only for Asian tiger shrimp did more than 95% of the propagated Monte Carlo results favor certain farming systems. The major environmental hot-spots driving the differences in environmental performance among systems were fishmeal from mixed fisheries for global warming, pond runoff and sediment discards for eutrophication, and agricultural pesticides, metals, benzalkonium chloride, and other chlorine-releasing compounds for freshwater ecotoxicity. The Asian aquaculture industry should therefore strive toward farming systems relying upon pelleted species-specific feeds, where the fishmeal inclusion is limited and sourced sustainably. Also, excessive nutrients should be recycled in integrated organic agriculture together with efficient aeration solutions powered by renewable energy sources.
- veterinary medicines impact categories systems uncertainty sensitivity lca Engineering Environmental Sciences & Ecology