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This Beloved Alaskan Fish has the Lowest Carbon Footprint of Any Major Protein in the World

George Beringer, CC license

In the pristine waters of Alaska, there is a harvest of an almost magical fish that everyone loves, but may not get the recognition it deserves.

For those who believe that their dietary choices must take into account the impact on the climate, the choice is clear and it is not fake meat, but wild Alaskan pollock, which has the lowest carbon footprint of all the major protein sources in the world. world.

The finding, based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) by leading sustainability consultancy Quantis, is staggering, because when we say important, we mean important.

Alaska wild pollock is the world’s largest sustainable wild capture fishery, and the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers Association (GAPP) produces more wild-caught fish for consumption than any other fishery in the world at 3.3 thousand million pounds per year.

It is the most consumed white fish in Europe and the third most consumed fish in the US.

Surprisingly, Alaska pollock provides McDonald’s entire global supply of fish fillet sandwiches, as well as the bulk supply of beloved European processed seafood such as fish sticks in England, cutlet fillets in Germany, and kibling in Netherlands.

Additionally, haddock is the number one source of surimi, or imitation crab, in Asia and most of the world’s sushi and stew restaurants, having cornered the market for products such as kamabuko (fish balls for traditional Chinese stew) and the California roll.

Surprisingly, all this supply and demand, the 3.3 billion pounds, can be achieved annually with 15% of the total fish population.

“It accumulates in volumes that are truly unmatched in the world, in any other ocean,” says GAPP CEO Craig Morris. “It concentrates on what we call very clean biomass. There is very little bycatch, much less than 1% of what we catch is not what we are catching. “

“It is a fishery that learned from the challenges faced by some of the other fisheries in the world. When we started fishing for Alaska pollock 40 years ago, we had to be more efficient than other fisheries because [it] does not attend school outside the main population centers “.

A dedicated breed


For GAPP, their control over this magnificent fish comes with pride and the sense of responsibility normally reserved for national park rangers.

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“We see this as a fishery that we want to pass on to generations to come,” said Bob Desutel, who sits on the GAPP board of directors. “We are very proud of what we have done here and we validate it here with this life cycle assessment.”

The Quantis LCA, which took into account every measurable particle of energy used to produce a piece of frozen haddock, found that all of the aforementioned staples can be provided to the world by around 3.7 kg of CO2 or equivalent per kg of haddock. , which is substantially less than any terrestrial protein source, less even than eggs, Y one fifth of the CO2 produced to make the Impossible Burger or other fake meats.

Propulsion is the main driver of carbon in the fishery, Bob admitted. GNN, But the element captured in nature means that carbon is not produced to create food as would be the case in traditional aquaculture.

Additionally, its substantial reliance on Alaskans for the post-capture segment of the supply chain means that very little carbon is generated through transportation or shipping jobs by sea.

Of course a proven report that more than 26,000 Alaskans are employed in the fishing industry, with an average of one-third of all work, both catching and processing, done on pollock.

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“In Alaska, all that really has leaves is boneless steaks, boneless surimi, and we basically turn everything else into fishmeal and fish oil,” Morris said. “And those two are processed in Alaska, so there is basically no waste. Every pound that leaves Alaska is in usable form. “

For generations to come

“My family comes from Massachusetts and they lived off what everyone thought was the inexhaustible resource of Atlantic cod, and they didn’t have the coordinated approach that we enjoy in Alaska,” Morris said. “The oceans are something that needs a science-based approach to ensure populations remain at stable levels for generations to come.”

And GAPP helps achieve this goal year after year with the help of the Alaska Fisheries Council, the Dep. Of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to ensure that the health of fish populations continues, and that only those adult fish are the targets.

To further reduce emissions, GAPP and the aforementioned agencies use sonar-equipped solar powered sailing drones that cruise across the waters for as long as necessary until every inch of habitat is inspected, and the number of schools of fish is of about 500-1000. The grams of weight are counted, thus fixing the catch for the following year.

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“For those concerned about the impacts that their dietary choices have on climate change, there is a protein that is right in front of you that is truly unmatched in your carbon pool,” says Morris.

“We wanted to make sure, given that we are the largest sustainable wild capture fishery in the world, that our partners seek to commit to sustainability, no matter if it is an Aldi, a Costco or a Walmart, we wanted them to do so we know that by marketing our product, they are doing a lot for the environment. “

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