Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

By-Catch Impacts in Fisheries: Utilizing the IUCN Red List Categories for Enhanced Product Level Assessment in Seafood LCAs

Hornborg, Sara; Svensson, Mikael; Nilsson, Per; Ziegler, Friederike


Overexploitation of fish stocks causes concern not only to fisheries managers and conservation biologists, but also engages seafood consumers; more integrated product perspectives would be useful. This could be provided by life cycle assessment (LCA); however, further complements of present LCA methodology are needed to assess seafood production, one being by-catch impacts. We studied the scientific rationale behind using the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (TM) for assessment of impacts relating to fish species' vulnerability. For this purpose, the current Red List status of marine fish in Sweden was compared to the advice given in fisheries as well as key life history traits known to indicate sensitivity to high fishing pressure. Further, we quantified the amount of threatened fish (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) that was discarded in demersal trawl fisheries on the Swedish west coast. The results showed that not only did the national Red List of marine fish have a high consistency with advice given in fisheries and indices of vulnerability, the different fishing practices studied were also found to have vastly different amounts of threatened fish discarded per kilo landing. The suggested approach is therefore promising as a carrier of aggregated information on the extent to which seafood production interferes with conservation priorities, in particular for species lacking adequate stock assessment. To enable extensive product comparisons, it is important to increase coverage of fish species by the global IUCN Red List, and to reconsider the appropriate assessment unit (species or stocks) in order to avoid false alarms.


Conservation; Discards; Fisheries management; IUCN Red List; LCA; Seafood

Published in

Environmental Management
2013, volume: 52, number: 5, pages: 1239-1248
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Hornborg, Sara
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Swedish Species Information Centre
Nilsson, Per
Ziegler, Friederike

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)