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Marine Biodiversity Footprint

Drawing on our experience in assessing the terrestrial biodiversity footprint of products over their entire value chain [1], and our work on marine biodiversity [2], [3], we are currently developing a methodology and a tool to assess the impact of fishing and aquaculture activities  on marine biodiversity.

This is intended for business stakeholders -fishing and aquaculture activities, suppliers, processors, distributors- who wish to quantitatively measure the impacts of their activity on marine biodiversity.

Biodiversity, a key stake for fishing and aquaculture

Figure 1: Planetary boundaries according to Campbell et al 2017. Limits regarding biodiversity have already been exceeded.

Biodiversity is one of the key issues to be taken into account in a sustainable business strategy. It constitutes one of the planetary limits largely exceeded [Campbell et al. 2017], [Steffen et al. 2015]. Many agribusiness companies have already taken up the subject and biodiversity is becoming, after climate, the differentiating issue for CSR departments.

Indeed, IPBES in 2019 makes an alarming description of the state of biodiversity. It estimates that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. In terms of marine biodiversity, around 2/3 of the marine environment is significantly modified by human activities, almost 2/3 of coral reefs have disappeared or are threatened, and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.

Fisheries and aquaculture are bound to be maintained and/or developed. Indeed, in a society where meat consumption must decrease, fish appears as one of the alternatives for our protein intake. In certain dietary transition scenarios, such as that of the EAT Lancet, the consumption of fish is even increased.

But these sectors also have their environmental issues; today, no quantitative tool exists to steer the approach and measure the impact on biodiversity.

Our objectives

They consist of two stages: 1) developing a robust methodology to determine impacts on biodiversity of activities from fishing and aquaculture 2) developing a tool allowing easy calculation, monitoring over time and facilitated communication.

We aim to place our tool in a scientific context in order to allow an eco-design approach by companies and help them communicate to consumers through robust and understandable indicators.

Our methology

Figure 2 : Example of a comparison of biodiversity impact between a reference product and its variant according to Asselin et al.

We rely on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology with the latest scientific advances, ours [1], [2], [3], and that of the international community Helias et al. 2018, Emanuelsson et al. 2014, Langlois et al. 2014. Our methodology accounts for the five pressures identified by the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment in 2005 and confirmed by IPBES in 2019: Direct exploitation of species (overfishing and bycatch), Climate change, Habitat change, Invasive species and Pollution.

We are contributing to development of additional indicators to cover pressures which are still poorly taken into account by LCA.

Our project

We bring together all stakeholders: companies, NGOs, civil society, technical institutes, research institutes …

We carry out business case studies to test the methodology. These pilot cases ensure that methodology and tool are concrete and applicable in a business context.

Involvement of the research community guarantees scientific excellence. The scientific committee brings together ecological experts and LCA specialists.


Further information can be found on the project website :

Our publications

[1] A. Asselin et al., « Product Biodiversity Footprint – A novel approach to compare the impact of products on biodiversity combining Life Cycle Assessment and Ecology », Journal of Cleaner Production, 2019, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119262.

[2] G. Gaillet, A. Asselin-Balençon, et A. Wermeille, « Sustainable fisheries: towards operationalization of decision making accounting for biodiversity », Journal of Cleaner Production, 2022, p. 132103..

[3] A. Asselin et A. Wermeille, « Farmed salmon production: what are the main impacts on biodiversity? A generic case study with the Product Biodiversity Footprint », European Commission, Brussels, Belgium, 2021.

Environmental metrics
Environmental footprints, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), value chain approach, quantitative and qualitative indicators.
Product Biodiversity Footprint
Methodology and tool for assessment of the biodiversity footprint of your products over their value chain.

Development and maintenance of environmental databases.

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