The EU's Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is one of the main initiatives for promoting product sustainability. A PEF is a multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of a good or service throughout its life-cycle; its purpose is to reduce the environmental impacts of goods and services, taking into account supply chain activities (from extraction of raw materials, through production and use, to final waste management).
The European Commission developed PEF methodologies in support of the EU's Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. However, much work needs to be done in support of PEF implementation in many sectors, including aquaculture. Fish farms help meet rising demand for fish and fish products, but they can also have negative environmental impacts, including on water quality (eutrophication), benthic (seabed) biodiversity, and diseases in wild fish.
It is possible to reduce these impacts by implementing innovative techniques, but these should be supported by all stakeholders of the value chain (companies, associations, consumers and statutory bodies).
The LIFE AQUAPEF project will develop a methodology and tools to support the implementation of PEF into the Mediterranean aquaculture sector. This will involve establishing a framework that all stakeholders are happy with, designing a standardised data collection protocol for aquaculture inventories and obtaining representative datasets for Mediterranean fish farms. These will be used to develop protocols for evaluating environmental performance, identify improvement strategies with the greatest environmental impact reduction potential and propose biological or ecological impact categories to complement the PEF evaluation.
Three studies will be set up to demonstrate that it is possible to reduce the overall environmental impact of aquaculture by 10% using the PEF methodology. The project will also be used to increase social awareness of sustainable food products and transfer results to the whole EU aquaculture industry.
LIFE AQUAPEF is expected to contribute to the implementation of several EU policies, including the strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture, circular economy action plan, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, 7th Environment Action Programme and single market for green products.