Skip to main content
Skip Navigation

Wild caught Alaska sockeye salmon: A case study of the food energy water nexus for a sustainable wild catch fishery

July 30, 2022
Journal of Cleaner Production

Silvio Viglia, Mark T. Brown, David C. Love, Jillian Fry, Roni A. Neff, Ray Hilborn


There is a gap in information in the literature regarding the energy and water embodied is seafood, especially wild catch fisheries. This work draws on primary and secondary data to assess, through a life cycle approach, the energy and water consumed to catch and process wild sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay, Alaska (USA). The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery is a very remote wild catch fishery. All material inputs and labor are either barged or flown in from other parts of Alaska, and the lower U.S. states. In addition, a large monitoring and enforcement effort by the State of Alaska is conducted to sustainably manage the fishery. We therefore expanded the system boundary to include energy and water for commuting laborer's and regulators to depict the system within a wider context. Structured interviews were conducted to elicit information from fishers and processors related to their use of water and energy and to ascertain potentials for reducing energy and water demand of the fishery. The energy associated with fishing and processing sockeye ranges between 24.6 and 33.8 MJ kg−1 with fishing effort accounting for 43% of the total energy embodied in products. The water embodied in final sockeye salmon products ranged between 10 and 23 L/kg, mainly the result of processing and packaging. Combined, labor transport and fishery management contributed 8% to the embodied energy in sockeye products, while contributing less that 1% of the water embodied in sockeye products. While not insignificant, the energy costs of fishery management are inconsequential and should provide adequate justification for continued sustainable management and forceful information for consumer choice. The combination of governmental regulations and the remote location results in few opportunities for lowering energy and water demand of this already efficient fishery.