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Hake's Carbon Footprint

Sustainability Education & academia +2 more

SPAIN - A new study, carried out by the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), has analysed the greenhouse gas emissions of Galicia's fishing industry by species and fishing method.

The study, published in the journal 'Science of the Total Environment', estimates the carbon footprint for Galicia's fishing activity to be some 888,620 (metric) tons annually. By species, it detected high variability according to the distance from the fishing ground and the technique employed.

The researchers followed the movements of Galicia's long-distance, deep-sea and inshore fishing boats as well as those used in fish farming.

The work was carried out in two stages. Firstly, the researchers contacted fishermen's organisations directly so that they could be sent the necessary information and, in the second stage, they did fieldwork to increase the amount of data.

The researchers found that the main causes of environmental impact in fishing were distance and technique, followed by operational factors. However, they also found differences according to the species of fish.

Ian Vzquez-Rowe, co-author of the study and researcher at the USC, commented: "The case of hake is a very interesting one, because it is caught in any number of fishing grounds.

It is the species par excellence consumed in Spain and, according to our research, the young hake caught on the Galician coast has a substantially lower impact on climate change than that captured in the Great Sole Bank or off Mauritania. Nevertheless, the fishing method - trawling - is the same.

The economic value of the different species means, also, that on the coast of Galicia species like the sardine, horse mackerel and mackerel are caught, whereas in other fishing grounds outside the EU they are not.

Mr Vzquez-Rowe concluded that "they are just not considered", as in the case of the Mauritanian fishing ground, where they have evidence that boats get "significant" catches of horse mackerel which are simply thrown back into the sea.