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The Carbon Footprint of Norwegian Seafood Products on the Global Seafood Market


  • Friederike Ziegler,

    Corresponding author
    • Address correspondence to: Friederike Ziegler, SIK, PO Box 5401, SE-402 29 Göteborg, Sweden. Email:

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  • Ulf Winther,

  • Erik Skontorp Hognes,

  • Andreas Emanuelsson,

  • Veronica Sund,

  • Harald Ellingsen


Greenhouse gas emissions caused by food production are receiving increased attention worldwide. A problem with many studies is that they only consider one product; methodological differences also make it difficult to compare results across studies. Using a consistent methodology to ensure comparability, we quantified the carbon footprint of more than 20 Norwegian seafood products, including fresh and frozen, processed and unprocessed cod, haddock, saithe, herring, mackerel, farmed salmon, and farmed blue mussels. The previous finding that fuel use in fishing and feed production in aquaculture are key inputs was confirmed. Additional key aspects identified were refrigerants used on fishing vessels, product yield, and by-product use. Results also include that product form (fresh or frozen) only matters when freezing makes slower transportation possible. Processing before export was favorable due to the greater potential to use by-products and the reduced need for transportation. The most efficient seafood product was herring shipped frozen in bulk to Moscow at 0.7 kilograms CO2 equivalents per kilogram (kg CO2-eq/kg) edible product. At the other end we found fresh gutted salmon airfreighted to Tokyo at 14 kg CO2-eq/kg edible product. This wide range points to major differences between seafood products and room for considerable improvement within supply chains and in product choices. In fisheries, we found considerable variability between fishing methods used to land the same species, which indicates the importance of fisheries management favoring the most resource-efficient ways of fishing. Both production and consumption patterns matter, and a range of improvements could benefit the carbon performance of Norwegian seafood products.