Research Report

A Risk Benefit Analysis of Mariculture as a means to Reduce the Impacts of Terrestrial Production of Food and Energy



Roberts CA, Newton R, Bostock J, Prescott S, Honey DJ, Telfer T, Walmsley SF, Little DC & Hull SC (2015) A Risk Benefit Analysis of Mariculture as a means to Reduce the Impacts of Terrestrial Production of Food and Energy. Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum; World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) SARF Project Reports, SARF106. Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum.

The Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum (SARF) and WWF-UK commissioned this study to investigate whether the pressure on land and freshwater for future food and energy resources, and impacts on the climate, related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, may be reduced through expansion of global mariculture. The study has undertaken a high level assessment of the ‘environmental footprint’ of global mariculture and terrestrial-based food and energy production systems through the collation and assessment of available Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) for key food products (beef, pork, chicken, freshwater finfish, marine finfish, shellfish and crustacean species) and biomass (terrestrial and algal) for energy production. The outputs of the footprint comparison were then used to assess the risks and benefits of increasing global mariculture, through the development of projected future scenarios in which mariculture contributes differing proportions of projected future food requirements. The analysis also qualitatively considered the socio-economic and wider environmental risks and benefits (e.g. in relation to ecosystem services) of global mariculture expansion, where expansion may occur geographically and whether future technological developments may help mitigate against identified impacts. The study identifies the key uncertainties and limitations of the risk/benefit analysis and makes prioritised recommendations on how these limitations can be addressed and the analysis developed for more regional or site-specific assessments.

aquaculture; mariculture; sustainability; livestock; lca; seaweed; risk-benefit analysis; environmental impact; shellfish; fish; food; global;

Title of seriesSARF Project Reports
Number in seriesSARF106
Publication date31/12/2015
Publication date online01/2016
PublisherScottish Aquaculture Research Forum
Publisher URL…8987.sarf106.pdf

People (3)


Professor Dave Little
Professor Dave Little

Professor, Institute of Aquaculture

Dr Richard Newton
Dr Richard Newton

Research Fellow, Institute of Aquaculture

Professor Trevor Telfer
Professor Trevor Telfer

Professor, Institute of Aquaculture