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Sustainability aspects and nutritional composition of fish: evaluation of wild and cultivated fish species consumed in the Netherlands


  • S. Marije Seves

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Elisabeth H. M. Temme

    () (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Marinka C. C. Brosens

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Michiel C. Zijp

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Jeljer Hoekstra

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Anne Hollander

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))


Abstract Health councils recommend higher fish consumption because of its associated health benefits. However, overfishing is considered the main threat to marine fisheries. To answer to the global fish demand, cultivated fish production continues to grow and may come with environmental concerns. This study aims to evaluate environmental sustainability and n-3 long chain (≥C20) polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFA) content of current fish consumption in the Netherlands. Fish consumption was assessed on two non-consecutive days by 24-hour recalls in the Dutch National Food Consumption Survey 2007–2010 (n = 3819, aged 7–69 yr). Fish products consumed were classified according to species and types of fishery. We evaluated greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) and land use, calculated via life cycle assessments. Fish stocks and biodiversity were taken into account via sustainability labels. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) contents in fish were calculated based on analyses available from food composition databases and literature. The Dutch average consumption is 6–15 g fish per person per day, of mostly wild-caught fish. Large variations exist between fish species in GHGE and n-3 LC-PUFA contents, and are independent of the type of fishery. Land use is higher for cultivated fish. Cultivated salmon contains significantly more n-3 LC-PUFA and total fat than wild-caught salmon. For most species evaluated, except for mackerel and catfish, fish with a sustainability label is available. Our results suggest that herring, wild-caught and cultivated salmon with MSC/ASC logo are a reasonable choice from the combined perspective of n-3 LC-PUFA content and the selected environmental indicators.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Marije Seves & Elisabeth H. M. Temme & Marinka C. C. Brosens & Michiel C. Zijp & Jeljer Hoekstra & Anne Hollander, 2016. "Sustainability aspects and nutritional composition of fish: evaluation of wild and cultivated fish species consumed in the Netherlands," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 597-610, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:135:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s10584-015-1581-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-015-1581-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nijdam, Durk & Rood, Trudy & Westhoek, Henk, 2012. "The price of protein: Review of land use and carbon footprints from life cycle assessments of animal food products and their substitutes," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 760-770.
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