LIFE Project Cover Photo

Promote the effective implementation of the Product Environmental Footprint in the Mediterranean aquaculture sector

Reference: LIFE17 ENV/ES/000193 | Acronym: LIFE AQUAPEF



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.

Expected results:

  • Effective implementation of the Product Environmental Footprint in the Mediterranean aquaculture sector, through user-friendly PEF calculation software;
  • A new dataset for Mediterranean aquaculture including relevant inventories for feed and feed ingredients (type, quantities and origin), type of wastewater organic loads relative to fish production, feed conversion efficiency for each species, and water and energy usage ratios;
  • Validation of the PEF methodology at three aquaculture farms with a combined capacity of 7 500 tonnes of fish. This will result in the following reduction in impacts: 7 700 tonnes of carbon dioxide, 2 500 cubic metres of water and 13 300 tonnes of feed wastes. Some 200 tonnes of biowastes will be reused;
  • At least one new ecological indicator proposed;
  • A list of potential environmental improvement actions for Mediterranean aquaculture, agreed through a stakeholder roundtable;
  • Replication of actions in a further eight aquaculture farms after the project: five farms producing seabass and seabream in Greece, Spain and Italy; two salmon farms located in the UK and Ireland and one turbot farm in north-west Spain;
  • A webinar to share results with other food PEF working groups;
  • More than 5 000 consumers made more awareness of sustainable food through interaction with the project.


    Reference: LIFE17 ENV/ES/000193
    Acronym: LIFE AQUAPEF
    Start Date: 01/07/2018
    End Date: 31/12/2022
    Total Budget: 1,754,332 €
    EU Contribution: 1,049,464 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Fundacin AZTI - AZTI Fundazioa
    Legal Status: PNC
    Address: Txatxarramendi ugartea, z/g, 48395, Sukarrieta, España
    Contact Person: Saioa Ramos
    Tel: 34946574000

    LIFE Project Map



    • COM(2015)614 - "Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy" (02.12.2015)
    • Directive 2008/56 - Framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) (17.06.2008)


    Name Type
    Fundacin AZTI - AZTI Fundazioa Coordinator
    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium Participant
    Cultivos Marinos de Guardamar, Spain Participant
    FORKYS AQUACULTURES SA, Greece Participant
    INGENET - Ingeniería de Informática y Control S.L.U., Spain Participant
    SKIRONIS AQUACULTURE S.A., Greece Participant