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Sustainable shrimp production chain in the Midwestern United States
With the increasing global population,
providing sufficient food to meet the rising demand has become a great
challenge to food-producing sectors. Aquaculture is one of the food sources
which produces varieties of seafood. Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the
US, and its production plays an important role in the aquaculture industry. However,
shrimp farming causes various types of pollution to damage the environment and
aquatic biodiversity, the associated impacts must be mitigated to ensure the
sustainability of shrimp production. This study performed a life cycle
assessment (LCA) on different shrimp production chains from cradle to the market
in Midwestern US covering three farming systems and eight shrimp feed formulas.
Midpoint environmental impacts including acidification potential (AP),
eutrophication potential (EP) and global warming potential (GWP) were
determined. Feed production was identified as the main contributor to the AP
and GWP for both the intensive and semi-intensive production systems (SPS),
regardless of the feed formula. While the environmental performance of feed
production highly depended on the feed conversion ratio, feed ingredient was
another determining factor in which animal protein sources, including poultry
by-product meal and fishmeal, showed high contributions to the AP and GWP.
However, plant proteins such as soybean, wheat, and corn gluten meals produced
higher EP, therefore, substituting plant-based ingredients for animal-based
ones in shrimp feeds did not all result in positive environmental consequences.
Shrimp farming was the hotspot of all the three impacts, especially accounting
for the highest EP. Among the three farming systems studied here, the SPS caused
the highest environmental burdens due to the intensive uses of chemicals and
fertilizers. On the contrary, the extensive farming was found to be the most
sustainable system because no inputs of feeding and additional materials and
energy are required for its operation. The LCA model developed in this study is
expected to serve as US shrimp farmers’ decision-making guidelines to adapt
farming practices with lower environmental footprint.