Life Cycle Assessment of Frozen Tilapia Fillets From Indonesian Lake-Based and Pond-Based Intensive Aquaculture Systems


Address correspondence to:
Nathan Pelletier
School for Resource and Environmental Studies
Suite 5010, 6100 University Ave.
Dalhousie University
Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 3J5


We used life cycle assessment to evaluate a subset of the cradle-to-destination-port environmental impacts associated with the production, processing, and transportation of frozen, packaged Indonesian tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) fillets to ports in Chicago and Rotterdam. Specifically, we evaluated the cumulative energy use; biotic resource use; and global warming, acidifying, and eutrophying emissions at each life cycle stage and in aggregate. We identify the importance of least environmental cost feed sourcing for reducing supply chain environmental impacts. We also highlight the need for more effective nutrient cycling in intensive aquaculture. The environmental trade-offs inherent in substituting technological inputs for ecosystem services in intensive pond-based versus lake-based production systems are discussed. We further call for more nuanced considerations of comparative environmental advantage in the production and interregional trade of food commodities than has been characteristic of historic food miles discussions. Significant opportunities exist for improving environmental performance in tilapia aquaculture. This product compares favorably, however, with several other fishery, aquaculture, and animal husbandry products, according to the suite of impact categories considered in this study.