Inclusion of discard assessment indicators in fisheries life cycle assessment studies. Expanding the use of fishery-specific impact categories

  • Ian Vázquez-RoweEmail author
  • Ma Teresa Moreira
  • Gumersindo Feijoo



The main purpose of this article is to propose specific discard indexes for their development in fisheries life cycle assessment (LCA). The objective of these is to characterize and standardize discards in worldwide fisheries.


The global discard index (GDI) is intended to be an easily understood index whose use is extendible to any fishery in the world. It is presented as a dynamic index that aims to characterize and standardize discard rates between fisheries by direct comparison with the global discard rates reported periodically by FAO. Furthermore, a simplified approach excluding characterization is presented for scenarios in which the data quality linked to discards is poor. Two additional indicators, survival rate of discards and slipping, are proposed to improve the reporting and quantification of biomass waste by fishing vessels.


GDI implementation, together with two other fishery-specific impact categories, showed remarkable differences in the environmental impacts of several fishing fleets when compared with the obtained results for conventional impact categories. Results for the conventional categories were strongly influenced by the energy use in the fishery, while results obtained for fishery-specific categories presented variable trends due to the dependence on a wider range of factors. GDI inclusion favored direct comparison with worldwide average discard rates on a time scale basis, from a wet weight or a net primary productivity perspective, depending on the selected approach.


Proposed indicators achieved the important objective of integrating discard data as a fishery-specific impact in fishery LCAs, increasing the benefits of implementing LCA in fisheries assessment. Specific advantages of these indicators include assessing changes in capture and landing composition, evaluating the selectivity of the fishing gears, and monitoring the behavior of fisheries in a normalized context respect to other fisheries. GDI was identified as an adequate methodological improvement for regular use in fisheries LCA. Future developments GDI include its harmonization for inclusion in damage assessment.


Discards Fishery Global discard index Impact categories LCA 



This study was developed thanks to funding from the Galician Government (Project reference: GRC 2010/37). Ian Vázquez-Rowe wishes to thank the Galician Government for financial support (María Barbeito Program). Furthermore, the authors would like to thank all the anonymous skippers who kindly agreed to answer the questions proposed in the questionnaires.

Supplementary material

11367_2012_395_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


  1. Afonso AS, Hazin FHV, Carvalho F, Pacheco JC, Hazin H, Kerstetter DW, Murie D, Burgess GH (2011) Fishing gear modifications to reduce elasmobranch mortality in pelagic and bottom longline fisheries off Northeast Brazil. Fish Res 108(2–3):336–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen M, Kilpatrick D, Armstrong M, Briggs R, Pérez N, Course G (2001) Evaluation of sampling methods to quantify discarded fish using data collected during discards project EC 95/094 by Northern Ireland, England and Spain. Fish Res 49:241–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alverson DL, Freeber MH, Pope JG, Murawski SA (1994) A global assessment of fisheries bycatch and discards. FAO fisheries technical paper no. 339, Rome: FAO: 235 ppGoogle Scholar
  4. Anon (2002) On a Community Action Plan to reduce discards of fish—communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, Commission of the European Communities, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  5. Aubin JE, Papatryphon E, van der Werf HMG, Ctazifotis S (2009) Assessment of the environmental impact of carnivorous finfish production systems using life cycle assessment. J Clean Prod 17:354–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bare JC, Hofstetter P, Pennington DW, Udo de Haes HA (2000) Life cycle impact assessment workshop summary midpoints versus endpoints: the sacrifices and benefits. Int J Life Cycle Assess 5:319–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Benoît HP, Hurlbut T, Chassé J (2010) Assessing the factors influencing discard mortality of demersal fishes using a semi-quantitative indicator of survival potential. Fish Res 106(3):436–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borges L, van Keeken OA, van Helmond ATM, Couperus B, Dickey-Collas M (2008) What do pelagic freezer-trawlers discard? ICES J Mar Sci 65:605–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Branch T, Watson R, Fulton EA, Jennings S, McGilliard CR, Pablico GT, Ricard D, Tracey SR (2010) The trophic fingerprint of marine fisheries. Nature 468:431–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Broadhurst M (2008) Maximising the survival of bycatch discarded from commercial estuarine fishing gears in NSW. NSW Department of Primary Industries –Fisheries Final Report Series. No. 107, ISSN 1449-9967Google Scholar
  11. Buchspies B, Tölle SJ, Jungbluth N (2011) Life cycle assessment of high-sea fish and salmon aquaculture. ESU services Ttd. Available at:
  12. Byrd BL, Hohn AA, Godfrey MH (2011) Emerging fisheries, emerging fishery interactions with sea turtles: a case study of the large-mesh gillnet fishery for flounder in Palmico Sound, North Carolina, USA. Mar Policy 35:271–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Caddy JF (1998) How pervasive is “Fishing Down Marine Food Webs”? Science 282:1383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cappell R (2001) Economic aspects of discarding. UK case study: discarding by North Sea Whitefish Trawlers, Nautilius ConsultantsGoogle Scholar
  15. Catchpole TL, Gray TS (2010) Reducing discards of fish at sea: a review of European pilot projects. J Environ Manage 91:717–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Catchpole TL, Frid CLJ, Gray TS (2005) Discards in North Sea fisheries: causes, consequences and solutions. Mar Policy 29:421–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Catchpole TL, Frid CLJ, Gray TS (2006) Resolving the discard problem-a case study of the English Nephrops fishery. Mar Policy 30(6):821–831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Catchpole TL, Eneverb R, Maxwella DL, Armstronga MJ, Reesec A, Revilla AS (2011) Constructing indices to detect temporal trends in discarding. Fish Res 107:94–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chen Y, Gordon GNG (1997) Assessing discarding at sea using a length-structured yield-per-recruit model. Fish Res 30:43–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Christensen V, Guenette S, Heymans JJ, Walters CJ, Watson R, Zeller D, Pauly D (2003) Hundred-year decline of North Atlantic predatory fishes. Fish Fish 4:1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Clucas IJ (1996) Reduction of fish wastage. An introduction. Papers presented at the Technical Consultation on Reduction of Wastage in Fisheries. Tokyo, JapanGoogle Scholar
  22. Cook R (2001) The magnitude and impact of by-catch mortality by fishing gear. Reykjavik Conference on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem, Reykjavik, Iceland, 1–4 October, 2001Google Scholar
  23. Emanuelsson A (2008) Bycatch and Discard in Senegalese artisanal and industrial fisheries for Southern Pink Shrimp (Penaeus notialis). SIK Report 774Google Scholar
  24. European Commission (2004) Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: promoting more environmentally-friendly measures—the role of technical conservation measures. COM (2004), pp. 438 final, Brussels, 21.6.2004Google Scholar
  25. European Commission (2010) Synthesis of the consultation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Commission Staff Working Document, Brussels; April, 2010Google Scholar
  26. FAO (1996) Technical consultation on reduction of wastage in fisheries. Tokyo, 28 October–1 November 1996. FAO Fisheries Report No. 547. RomeGoogle Scholar
  27. Fet AM, Schau EM, Haskins C (2010) A framework for environmental analyses of fish food production systems based on systems engineering principles. Syst Eng 13(2):109–8Google Scholar
  28. Ford JS, Pelletier NL, Ziegler F, Scholz AJ, Tyedmers PH, Sonesson U, Kruse SA, Silverman H (2012) Proposed local ecological impact categories and indicators for life cycle assessment of aquaculture. J Ind Ecol. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00410.x
  29. Friend of the Sea (2011) [21/10/2011] Available at:
  30. Froese R, Pauly D (eds.) (2011) FishBase. [24/7/2011] Available at:
  31. Furness RW (2003) Impacts of fisheries on seabird communities. Sci Mar 63:33–45Google Scholar
  32. Furness RW, Ensor K, Hudson AV (1992) The use of fishery waste by gull populations around the British Isles. Ardea 80:105–113Google Scholar
  33. Garthe S, Camphuysen CJ, Furness RW (1996) Amounts of discards by commercial fisheries and their significance as food for seabirds in the North Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 136:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Goedkoop M, de Schryver A, Oele M (2008) Introduction to LCA with SimaPro 7. PRé Consultants, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  35. Greenstreet SPR, Spence FE, McMillan JA (1999) Fishing effects in northeast Atlantic shelf seas: patterns in fishing effort, diversity and community structure. V. Changes in structure of the North Sea groundfish species assemblage between 1925 and 1996. Fish Res 40:153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Guinée JB, Gorrée M, Heijungs R, Huppes G, Kleijn R, de Koning A, van Oers L, Wegener A, Suh S, Udo de Haes HA (2001) Life cycle assessment. An operational guide to the ISO standards. Centre of Environmental Science, Leiden, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  37. Gurshin CWD, Szedlmayer ST (2004) Short-term survival and movements of Atlantic sharpnose sharks captured by hook-and-line in the north-east Gulf of Mexico. J Fish Biol 65:973–986CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hall MA, Alverson DL, Metzulals KI (2000) By-catch: problems and solutions. Mar Pollut Bull 41:204–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Heubeck M, Mellor RM, Harvey PV, Mainwood AR, Riddington R (1999) Estimating the population size and rate of decline in kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla breeding in Shetland 1981–97. Bird Study 46:48–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hill BJ, Wassenberg TJ (2000) The probable fate of discards from prawn trawlers fishing near coral reefs. A study in the northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Fish Res 48:277–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hospido A, Tyedmers P (2005) Life cycle environmental impacts of Spanish tuna fisheries. Fish Res 76:174–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Huse I, Vold A (2010) Mortality of mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.) after pursing and slipping from a purse seine. Fish Res 106:54–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Iribarren D, Vázquez-Rowe I, Hospido A, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2011) Updating the carbon footprint of the Galician fishing activity (NW Spain). Sci Total Environ 409:1609–1611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. ISO (2006a) ISO 14040 Environmental management- Life Cycle Assessment—principles and frameworkGoogle Scholar
  45. ISO (2006b) ISO 14044 Environmental management- Life Cycle Assessment—requirements and guidelinesGoogle Scholar
  46. Jennings S, Greenstreet S, Reynolds J (1999) Structural changes in an exploited fish community: a consequence of differential fishing effects on species with contrasting life histories. J Anim Ecol 68:617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Johnsen JP, Eliasen S (2011) Solving complex fisheries management problems: what the EU can learn from the Nordic experiences of reduction of discards. Mar Policy 35:130–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Jolliet O, Müller-Wenk R, Bare J, Brent A, Goedkoop M, Heijungs R, Itsubo N, Peña C, Pennington D, Potting J, Rebitzer G, Stewart M, Udo de Haes H, Weidema B (2004) The LCIA midpoint-damage Framework of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. Int J Life Cycle Assess 9(6):394–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kaimmer SM, Trumble RJ (1998) Injury, condition, and mortality of Pacific halibut bycatch following careful release by Pacific cod and sablefish longline fisheries. Fish Res 38:131–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kaiser MJ, Spencer BE (1995) Survival of by-catch from a beam trawl. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 126:31–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kelleher K (2005) Discards in the world’s marine fisheries: an update. Rome: food and agriculture organization of the United Nations. FAO 131 ppGoogle Scholar
  52. Lart WJ (2002) Discard studies: engaging fishers in support of management. ICES Theme Session V on Unaccounted Mortality in Fisheries. ICES CM V29Google Scholar
  53. Levasseur A, Lesage P, Margni M, DeschenesL SR (2010) Considering time in LCA: dynamic LCA and its application to global warming impact assessment. Environ Sci Technol 44:3169–3174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lindeboom HJ, de Grott SJ (1999) The effects of different types of fisheries on the North Sea and the Irish Sea bentic eco-systems—IMPACT II. RIVO-DLO report, C0003/98. Den Burg: Netherlands Institute for Sea ResearchGoogle Scholar
  55. Mesnil B (1996) When discards survive: accounting for survival of discards in fisheries assessment. Aquat Living Resour 9:209–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Milà i Canals L, Bauer C, Depestele J, Dubreuil A, Freiermuth KR, Gaillard G, Michelsen O, Müller-Wenk R, Rydgren B (2007) Key elements in a framework for land use impact assessment within LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 12:5–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Myers RA, Worm B (2005) Extinction, survival or recovery of large predatory fishes. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B 35:1–8Google Scholar
  58. Naylor RL, Goldburg RJ, Primavera JH, Kautsky N, Beveridge MCM, Clay J, Folke C, Lubchenco J, Mooney H, Troell M (2000) Effect of aquaculture on world fish supplies. Nature 405:1017–1024CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nilsson P, Ziegler F (2007) Spatial distribution of fishing effort in relation to seafloor habitats of the Kattegat, a GIS analysis. Aquat Conserv 17(4):421–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Oro D, Furness RW (2002) Influences of food availability and predation on survival of kittiwakes. Ecology 83:2516–2528CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Papatryphon E, Petit J, Kaushik SJ, van der Werf HMG (2004) Environmental impact assessment of salmonid feeds using life cycle assessment (LCA). Ambio 33(6):316–323Google Scholar
  62. Parker RWR (2011) Measuring and characterizing the ecological footprint and life cycle environmental costs of Antarctic Krill (Euphasia superb) products. M Sc Thesis. Dalhousie University, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  63. Pauly D, Christensen V (1995) Primary production required to sustain global fisheries. Nature 374:255–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Pauly D, Palomares ML (2005) Fishing down marine food web: it is far more pervasive than we thought. Bull Mar Sci 76:197–211Google Scholar
  65. Pauly D, Christensen V, Dalsgaard J, Froese R, Torres FJ Jr (1998a) Fishing down marine food webs. Science 279:860–863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pauly D, Froese R, Christensen V (1998b) How pervasive is “Fishing Down Marine Food Webs”: response to Caddy et al. Science 282:1383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Pauly D, Christensen V, Guénette S, Pitcher T, Sumaila UR, Walters CJ (2002) Towards sustainability in world fisheries. Nature 418:689–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Pelletier NL, Ayer NW, Tyedmers PH, Kruse SA, Flysjo A, Robillard G, Ziegler F, Scolz AJ, Sonesson U (2007) Impact categories for Life Cycle Assessment research of seafood production systems: reviews and prospectus. Int J Life Cycle Assess 12(6):414–421Google Scholar
  69. Pelletier NL, Tyedmers P, Sonesson U, Scholz A, Ziegler F, Flysjö A, Kruse S, Cancino B, Silverman H (2009) Not all salmon are created equal: life cycle assessment (LCA) of global salmon farming systems. Environ Manage 42:918–931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. PRè-Product Ecology Consultants (2011) SimaPro 7.3 PRè Consultants, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  71. Ramos S, Vázquez-Rowe I, Artetxe I, Moreira MT, Feijoo G, Zufía J (2011) Environmental assessment of Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) in the Basque Country. Increasing the timeline delimitation in fishery LCA studies. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16(7):599–610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Reap J, Roman F, Duncan S, Bras S (2008) A survey of unresolved problems in life cycle assessment—Part 2: impact assessment and interpretation. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13:374–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Regehr HM, Montevecchi WA (1997) Interactive effects of food shortage and predation on breeding failure of black-legged kittiwakes: indirect effects of fisheries activities and implications for indicator species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 155:249–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Revill AS, Dulvy NK, Holst R (2005) The survival of discarded lesserspotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula) in the western English Channel beam trawl fishery. Fish Res 71:121–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Rodriguez-Cabello C, Fernandez A, Olaso I, Sanchez F (2001) Survival of lesser-spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula, L.) discarded by trawlers. ICES CM 2001/N: 06Google Scholar
  76. SOFIA (2010) The State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture. FAO, Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  77. Stephen JA, Harris PJ (2010) Commercial catch composition with discard and immediate release mortality proportions off the southeastern coast of the United States. Fish Res 103:18–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Stratoudakis Y, Marçalo A (2002) Sardine slipping during purse seining off northern Portugal. ICES J Mar Sci 59:1256–1262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Tacon A, Metian M (2009) Fishing for feed or fishing for food: increasing global competition for small pelagic forage fish. Ambio 38(6):294–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Thrane M (2006) LCA of Danish fish products: new methods and insights. Int J Life Cycle Assess 11(1):66–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Thrane M, Ziegler F, Sonesson U (2009) Eco-labelling of wild-caught seafood products. J Clean Prod 17:416–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Tidwell JH, Allan GL (2001) Fish as food: aquaculture’s contribution. Ecological and economic impacts and contributions of fish farming and capture fisheries. EMBO reports 2(11):958–963CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Tyedmers P (2001) Energy consumed by North Atlantic fisheries. In: Zeller D, Watson R, Pauly D (ed) Fisheries Impacts on North Atlantic Ecosystems: Catch, Effort and National/Regional Datasets. Fisheries Centre Research Reports, Vancouver, British Columbia 9(3):12–34Google Scholar
  84. Vázquez-Rowe I, Iribarren D, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2010a) Combined application of life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis as a methodological approach for the assessment of fisheries. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(3):272–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Vázquez-Rowe I, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2010b) Life cycle assessment of horse mackerel fisheries in Galicia (NW Spain). Comparative analysis of two major fishing methods. Fish Res 106:517–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Vázquez-Rowe I, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2011a) Estimating global discards and their potential reduction for the Galician fishing fleet (NW Spain). Mar Policy 35:140–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Vázquez-Rowe I, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2011b) Life Cycle Assessment of fresh hake fillets captured by the Galician fleet in the Northern Stock. Fish Res 110:128–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Vázquez-Rowe I, Iribarren D, Hospido A, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2011c) Computation of operational and environmental benchmarks within selected Galician fishing fleets. J Ind Ecol 15(5):776–795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Villasante S (2009) Sobre la sostenibilidad de las pesquerías artesanales de Galicia: Conservando hoy para las futuras generaciones. Instituto de Estudios Marinos para la Nutrición y el Bienestar (INESMA). Convocatoria Premio de Investigación, pp 54 (in Spanish)Google Scholar
  90. Votier SC, Furness RW, Bearhop S, Crane JE, Caldow RWG, Catry P, Ensor K, Hamer KC, Hudson AV, Kalmbach E, Klomp NI, Pfeiffer S, Phillips RA, Prieto I, Thompson DR (2004) Changes in fisheries discard rates and seabird communities. Nature 427:727–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Walker PA, Hislop JRG (1998) Sensitive skates or resilient rays? Spatial and temporal shifts in ray species composition in the central and north-western North Sea between 1930 and the present day. ICES J Mar Sci 55:392–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Walsh WA, Kleiber P, McCracken M (2002) Comparison of logbook reports of incidental blue shark catch rates by Hawaii-based longline vessels to fishery observer data by application of a generalized additive model. Fish Res 58:79–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Weidema BP, Wesnaes MS (1996) Data quality management for life cycle inventories—an example of using data quality indicators. J Clean Prod 4:167–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Wetherall J (2003) Observer coverage in the Hawaii-based longline fishery: a case study. A working paper prepared for the 16th Meeting of the Standing Committee on Tuna and Billfish, Mooloolaba, Australia, 9–16 July 2003Google Scholar
  95. Winther U, Ziegler F, Skontorp-Hognes E, Emanuelsson A, Sund V, Ellingsen H (2009) Carbon footprint and energy use of Norwegian seafood products. SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture Report SFH80 A096068, Trondheim, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  96. Worm B, Hilborn R, Baum JA, Branch TA, Collie JS, Costello C (2005) Rebuilding global fisheries. Science 325:578–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Zhou S, Smith ADM, Punt AE, Richardson AJ, Gibbs M, Fulton EA, Pascoe S, Bulman C, Bayliss P, Sainsbury K (2010) Ecosystem-based fisheries management requires a change to the selective fishing philosophy. P Natl A Sc 107(21):9485–9489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Ziegler F, Nilsson P, Mattsson B, Walther Y (2003) Life Cycle Assessment of frozen fillets including fishery-specific environmental impacts. Int J Life Cycle Ass 8(1):39–47Google Scholar
  99. Ziegler F, Eichelsheim JL, Emanuelsson A, Flysjö A, Ndiaye V, Thrane M (2009) Life cycle assessment of southern pink shrimp products from Senegal. An environmental comparison between artisanal fisheries in the Casamance region and a trawl fishery based in Dakar. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1044. Rome, 2009Google Scholar
  100. Ziegler F, Emanuelsson A, Eichelsheim JL, Flysjö A, Ndiaye V, Thrane M (2011) Extended life cycle assessment of southern pink shrimp products originating in Senegalese artisanal and industrial fisheries for export to Europe. J Ind Ecol 15:527–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Vázquez-Rowe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ma Teresa Moreira
    • 1
  • Gumersindo Feijoo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, School of EngineeringUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

Personalised recommendations