Vietnam is the largest producer for the export of striped catfish. Traditionally striped catfish production in the Mekong Delta took place in integrated agriculture–aquaculture systems, but has shifted recently to intensive systems to meet increasing export demands. A recent study quantified the environmental impact of intensive striped catfish production in Vietnam. Another did the same for integrated systems. Both studies used life cycle assessment, covered similar environmental impact categories, and were roughly matched in the production stages included. However, an environmental comparison of both systems has not been made so far. The objective of this paper is to make a comparative life cycle assessment of striped catfish production in intensive and integrated systems. The comparison was based on existing life cycle assessments on these systems, but their methodological choices and data had to be aligned. The results show that striped catfish production in intensive systems contributes considerably more to seven of the nine assessed impact categories (global warming, ozone depletion, acidification, eutrophication, photochemical oxidation, human toxicity, freshwater ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, fossil depletion). Only contributions to eutrophication and freshwater ecotoxicity were higher for the integrated systems than for the intensive systems. In both systems, grow-out fish farming contributes most to eutrophication and freshwater ecotoxicity, whereas feed production contributes most to all other impact categories. The environmental performance of integrated striped catfish production is convincingly better in most impact categories. This raises questions about whether (elements of) these systems can be used to mitigate the environmental impact of intensive striped catfish production.
Kluts, I. N., Potting, J. M. B., Bosma, R. H., Phong, L. T., & Udo, H. M. J. (2012). Environmental comparison of intensive and integrated agriculture-aquaculture systems for striped catfish production in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam, based on two existing case studies using life cycle assessment. Reviews in Aquaculture, 4(4), 195-208. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-5131.2012.01072.x