Climate / Pelagic fish a ‘climate smart food source’

Parts of Shetland's pelagic fishing fleet at Mair's Pier in Lerwick. Photo: Shetland News

SCOTTISH-caught pelagic fish such as mackerel and herring have a lower carbon footprint compared to other types of food production, according to a newly published PhD research project.

The study Environmental impacts of pelagic fish caught by Scottish vessels was carried out by Frances Sandison and has been funded by the seafood industry and Shetland Islands Council as well as the universities of Aberdeen and the Highlands and Islands.

Her study also found that Scottish-caught pelagic fish have a lower carbon footprint and environmental impact when compared to other seafood products.

This includes UK farmed salmon, which is 7.2 times higher, and Norwegian caught cod and haddock, which are 3.5 and 3.9 times higher than Scottish caught pelagic fish.

This latest scientific work extended her earlier finding at the NAFC Marine Centre (Low carbon mackerel, Shetland News, 27 September 2015) which revealed that the carbon footprint of the Shetland mackerel trawl fishery was much lower compared to land-based meat production, including chicken, beef and pork.


Low carbon mackerel

Seafood production in general has a lower carbon footprint than land-based meat production.

PhD student Frances Sandison.

Sandison said: “In Scotland we have access to a fantastically low impact, highly nutritious, locally caught source of protein.

“Compared to other meat sources the choice is clear for the environmentally conscious consumer – we should be eating more local pelagic fish.”

Her environmental impact study also found that fuel consumption in the fishing phase is the main contributor of carbon emissions.

Enhancing fuel efficiency through innovations in vessel design and fishing practices and a transition to alternative fuel sources are part of the Scottish pelagic sector’s efforts to minimise emissions.

Chairman of the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group Ian Gatt said that sustainably managed pelagic fish represents a “climate smart food source” which helps to deliver on targets for achieving net zero carbon.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“For the Scottish pelagic sector there is a lot at stake with climate change, given that mackerel and herring have an established global trade that helps ensure food security as an affordable and nutritious protein in many parts of the world,” he said.

Scottish fishermen have invested heavily in modern vessels and fish handling systems, and processors in the latest equipment, to ensure a low carbon footprint product that can be delivered to market in an efficient manner.

“As such, Scottish mackerel and herring production really do tick all the right boxes when it comes to sustainability, nutrition, and low carbon footprint,” Gatt said.

The full study can be read here: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1cI5GbiU1p3iu

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.