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. 2019 Aug 6;53(15):9118-9127.
doi: 10.1021/acs.est.9b02965. Epub 2019 Jul 22.

Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Oyster Aquaculture


Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Oyster Aquaculture

Nicholas E Ray et al. Environ Sci Technol. .


Production of animal protein is associated with high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Globally, oyster aquaculture is increasing as a way to meet growing demands for protein, yet its associated GHG-emissions are largely unknown. We quantified oyster aquaculture GHG-emissions from the three main constituents of GHG-release associated with terrestrial livestock production: fermentation in the animal gut, manure management, and fodder production. We found that oysters release no methane (CH4) and only negligible amounts of nitrous oxide (0.00012 ± 0.00004 μmol N2O gDW-1 hr-1) and carbon dioxide (3.556 ± 0.471 μmol CO2 gDW-1 hr-1). Further, sediment fluxes of N2O and CH4 were unchanged in the presence of oyster aquaculture, regardless of the length of time it had been in place. Sediment CO2 release was slightly stimulated between 4 and 6 years of aquaculture presence and then returned to baseline levels but was not significantly different between aquaculture and a control site when all ages of culture were pooled. There is no GHG-release from oyster fodder production. Considering the main drivers of GHG-release in terrestrial livestock systems, oyster aquaculture has less than 0.5% of the GHG-cost of beef, small ruminants, pork, and poultry in terms of CO2-equivalents per kg protein, suggesting that shellfish aquaculture may provide a a low GHG alternative for future animal protein production compared to land based sources. We estimate that if 10% of the protein from beef consumption in the United States was replaced with protein from oysters, the GHG savings would be equivalent to 10.8 million fewer cars on the road.

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