Inclusion of discard assessment indicators in fisheries life cycle assessment studies. Expanding the use of fishery-specific impact categories

Ian Vázquez-Rowe, M. Teresa Moreira, Gumersindo Feijoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose The main purpose of this article is to propose specific discard indexes for their development in fisheries life cycle assessment (LCA). The objective of these is to characterize and standardize discards in worldwide fisheries. Methods The global discard index (GDI) is intended to be an easily understood index whose use is extendible to any fishery in the world. It is presented as a dynamic index that aims to characterize and standardize discard rates between fisheries by direct comparison with the global discard rates reported periodically by FAO. Furthermore, a simplified approach excluding characterization is presented for scenarios in which the data quality linked to discards is poor. Two additional indicators, survival rate of discards and slipping, are proposed to improve the reporting and quantification of biomass waste by fishing vessels. Results GDI implementation, together with two other fisheryspecific impact categories, showed remarkable differences in the environmental impacts of several fishing fleets when compared with the obtained results for conventional impact categories. Results for the conventional categories were strongly influenced by the energy use in the fishery, while results obtained for fishery-specific categories presented variable trends due to the dependence on a wider range of factors. GDI inclusion favored direct comparison with worldwide average discard rates on a time scale basis, from a wet weight or a net primary productivity perspective, depending on the selected approach. Conclusions Proposed indicators achieved the important objective of integrating discard data as a fishery-specific impact in fishery LCAs, increasing the benefits of implementing LCA in fisheries assessment. Specific advantages of these indicators include assessing changes in capture and landing composition, evaluating the selectivity of the fishing gears, and monitoring the behavior of fisheries in a normalized context respect to other fisheries. GDI was identified as an adequate methodological improvement for regular use in fisheries LCA. Future developments GDI include its harmonization for inclusion in damage assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-549
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Discards
  • Fishery
  • Global discard index
  • Impact categories
  • LCA


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