ISO 22948:2020: Carbon Footprint For Finfish

Fisherman on fishing vessel with finfish contributing to the carbon calculation in ISO 22948:2020.

Fish are smart. They possess traits that were thought to only pertain to humans: fish can perform multiple complex tasks simultaneously due to cerebral lateralization, and they can use tools like rocks to crack open clams, oysters, and mussels for food. ISO 22948:2020: Carbon Footprint For Seafood – Product Category Rules (CFP–PCR) For Finfish examines requirements for calculating the carbon footprint of finfish products.

What is ISO 22948:2020?

ISO 22948:2020 specifies requirements for calculating the carbon footprint specific to the finfish product category. Finfish are fish with fins, as opposed to shellfish. The methodology in the standard builds on the requirements of international standards for life cycle assessment (LCA) and products’ carbon footprints. The standard provides a basis for the following:

  1. Tools and databases to calculate the carbon footprint of finfish products.
  2. Efforts to improve and reduce the climate and environmental impact within the finfish industry.
  3. A knowledge base concerning the value chains, resource and energy consumption, and climate impacts of finfish products (beyond climate change alone).

It is important to note that ISO 22948:2020 only provides rules for calculating a product’s potential climate impact, so it cannot be used in isolation to specify a product’s overall environmental or sustainability characteristics. The carbon footprint, however, can be included as one of the indicators in the evaluation of a product’s overall environmental or sustainability characteristics.

Is Mercury in Fish Dangerous?

Since ISO 22948:2020 looks at the life cycle assessment (LCA) of finfish, traces mercury can be detected. Fish are a lean, low-calorie source of protein and include excellent minerals like zinc. Some fish, however, may contain harmful chemicals at high levels. Mercury poisoning occurs when too much mercury enters the body and can cause a negative effect on your neurological system; thus, sensitive populations to mercury are young children and pregnant women.

The degree of exposure to mercury depends on the amount and the type of fish eaten. The flesh of certain fish, such as salmon, trout, crab, lobster, and halibut, have lower mercury levels than other fish. On the other hand, fish such as tuna, swordfish, shark meat, orange roughy, ling, and king mackerel have much higher levels of mercury.

The Carbon Calculation in ISO 22948:2020

The carbon footprint of a product (CFP), as described in ISO 22948:2020, is the sum of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GHG removals in a product system, expressed as CO2 equivalents and based on a life cycle assessment using the single impact category of climate change. A product system is a collection of unit processes with elementary and product flows, and it models the life cycle (from material acquisition or generation from natural resources to final disposal) of a product. Data collection in the calculation of the carbon footprint of finfish products from aquaculture and fisheries would examine these unit processes that occur in the lifecycle of the finfish:

  • Feed production
  • Smolt production
  • Fish Farming
  • Fishing
  • Processing
  • Final Consumption

Among these processes, the dimensions of yield, energy or fuel consumption, transport means, distance and time of transport, quantity, disease and parasites, and waste are analyzed (when applicable to the given process) in the carbon calculation.


Overfishing is the practice of commercial or non-commercial fishing in rivers, streams, and oceans at too high of a rate, causing fish stocks to become too depleted to recover to natural levels. Nearly 90% of the world fish population are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted. As the human population has grown, so has modern development in fishing technology (e.g., massive factory ships and global positioning systems). This technology allows ships to deploy hooks and nets at immense depths, making it easy to capture more fish, and these ships can vastly contribute to the carbon calculation in ISO 22948:2020, as a study shows that 207 million tonnes of CO2 were released into the atmosphere by marine fishing vessels only.

Here are some risks overfishing poses:

ISO 22948:2020: Carbon Footprint For Seafood – Product Category Rules (CFP–PCR) For Finfish is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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