Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Environmental Sciences and Management


Natural Resources Management


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Anastasia Telesetsky

Advisor Department

Natural Resources Management

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


The global fishing and aquaculture industries inflict significant environmental impacts on our planet’s oceans. The overfishing, pollution, and environmental degradation currently caused by these industries threatens the sustainability of marine ecological and industrial systems. Despite this, demand for seafood is expected to rise in the coming decades to service the growing global population with nutrient-rich foods. The difficulty in reconciling the need for drastic improvements in marine sustainability and the need to continue meeting global seafood demand has produced an interest in alternative solutions to seafood production. The emerging cell-based foods industry may hold the potential to produce seafood products with a major reduction in environmental and societal costs; however, the technology is incipient, and assessments have yet to be made regarding its efficacy at producing seafood with lower environmental impacts. In this review, we compare the environmental impacts of cell-based mariculture technology to those of the more conventional seafood production means of aquaculture and capture fishing. To accomplish this, we review and analyze the current slate of life cycle assessment (LCA) studies aimed at documenting the environmental implications of these respective fields. This approach involved selecting and filtering LCA studies of capture fishing, aquaculture, and cell-based mariculture. Climate impacts were assessed after studies were standardized per unit of production. The study’s qualitative findings of environmental impacts and LCA shortcoming were reviewed and compared. Methodologies were also reviewed to allow for greater consideration of impact comparison. Overall, our findings suggested that cell-based mariculture may have higher global warming potential than capture fishing and aquaculture, due to its greater energy demands. However, cell-based mariculture outperforms capture fishing and aquaculture along most other dimensions of environmental impacts including diffuse, marine ecological impacts. We also discuss limitations posed by the current LCA methodologies in all three fields. LCA approaches to cell-based mariculture are limited by data quality and availability which engenders a greater reliance on assumptions. Capture fishing and aquaculture LCA methodology also struggle to standardize and incorporate the full range of fishery-specific impacts. Suggestions are made for greater research and assessment into LCA for all fields will be needed to appraise the full extent of environmental trade-offs.