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From Vegetable Box to Seafood Cooler: Applying the Community-Supported Agriculture Model to Fisheries


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Community-supported fisheries (CSF) projects show signs of rapid growth. Modeled on community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects, CSFs share objectives of reducing social and physical distance between consumers and producers and re-embedding food systems in social and environmental contexts. This article offers a comparison of CSF and CSA, situated in the differences between seafood and agricultural products, and fishing and farming. We draw on economic and resource theory, past research on CSA, and a member survey from a case study CSF. Survey results show CSF members are interested in accessing high-quality, fresh, local seafood, and in supporting fishing communities, and they believe that participating in a CSF achieves both. They are less certain that a CSF can address environmental concerns, and few identify environmental motives as their primary reason for participating. The latter contrasts with CSA research results, and we contextualize these findings in our broader comparison.
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Society & Natural Resources
An International Journal
ISSN: 0894-1920 (Print) 1521-0723 (Online) Journal homepage:
From Vegetable Box to Seafood Cooler: Applying
the Community-Supported Agriculture Model to
Lisa M. Campbell , Noëlle Boucquey , Joshua Stoll , Henry Coppola & Martin
D. Smith
To cite this article: Lisa M. Campbell , Noëlle Boucquey , Joshua Stoll , Henry Coppola &
Martin D. Smith (2014) From Vegetable Box to Seafood Cooler: Applying the Community-
Supported Agriculture Model to Fisheries, Society & Natural Resources, 27:1, 88-106, DOI:
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From Vegetable Box to Seafood Cooler:
Applying the Community-Supported Agriculture
Model to Fisheries
Duke University Marine Lab, Nicholas School of Environment,
Duke University, Beaufort, North Carolina, USA
Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Stanford University,
Stanford, California, USA
School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA
Volunteer Services and Community Partnerships Coordinator,
Montgomery Parks, Maryland-Na tional Capital Parks and
Planning Commission, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham,
North Carolina, USA
Community-supported fisheries (CSF) projects show signs of rapid growth.
Modeled on community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects, CSFs share
objectives of reducing social and physical distance between consumers and producers
and re-embedding food systems in social and environmental contexts. This article
offers a comparison of CSF and CSA, situated in the differences between seafood
and agricultural products, and fishing and farming. We draw on economic and
resource theory, past research on CSA, and a member survey from a case study
CSF. Survey results show CSF members are interested in accessing high-quality,
fresh, local seafood, and in supporting fishing communities, and they believe that
participating in a CSF achieves both. They are less certain that a CSF can address
environmental concerns, and few identify environmental motives as their primary
reason for participating. The latter contrasts with CSA research results, and we
contextualize these findings in our broader comparison.
Received 3 July 2012; accepted 11 December 2012.
Address correspondence to Lisa M. Campbell, Duke University Marine Lab, Nicholas
School of Environment, Duke University, 135 Duke Marine Lab Road, Beaufort, NC
28516, USA. E-mail:
Society and Natural Resources, 27:88–106
Copyright # 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0894-1920 print=1521-0723 online
DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2013.842276
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Keywords alternative food systems, common pool resources, community-
supported fisheries
A refrigerator truck pulls into a parking lot at Duke University in Durham, North
Carolina (NC), with a load of fresh seafood. As the drivers unload, graduate stu-
dents from Duke’s Nicholas School of Environment (NSOE) unfold a table and pull
out a clipboard with a list of names. By 4 p.m., 25 people with coolers or plastic bags
are waiting. By 4:30 p.m., things are hectic. Over 2 hours, 275 people pick up
their weekly or bimonthly share of seafood. While they wait, members of the
community-supported fishery (CSF) chat with others in line. When they get to the
table, they often have questions. Are there extra fish heads to make stock? Is there
more information on recipes? For the CSF organizers, the experience is exhilarating,
and for participating fishermen, it is a new way to do business.
This scene occurred 12 times in late 2009, on Thursdays, during the inaugural
season of North Carolina’s first operational CSF, one that delivers seafood from
Carteret County to shareholders in Durham, 175 miles away. A CSF involves an
up-front pur chase of shares in return for a weekl y or bimonthly delivery of fresh,
locally caught fish. As in community-supported agriculture (CSA), CSF members
agree to take what they are given in their ‘‘cooler’’ (i.e., what has been caught).
The CSF project ‘‘Walking Fish’’ was initiated by members of Duke Unive rsity’s
student subchapter of the American Fisheri es Society, to test whether the CSF
approach—at that time restricted to two in the country—could work in North
Carolina. The students were motivated by concern about declining small-scale fish-
ing in North Carolina (Crosson 2007; Garrity-Blake and Nash 2007), and hoped
their model could show the potential for CSF to provide additional income to fis hers
while simultaneously expanding their community support networks.
The students found their project successful. Consumers were found easily;
400 shares sold within three weeks, and more than 400 would-be members joined
a waiting list. For the second season (April–June 2010), 400 shares sold in four days.
By collaborating with a Carteret Coun ty-based seafood processor, a core group of
five fishermen, and one fisherman’s wife, Walking Fish managed the logistics of
getting seafood to its members. In 2011, entering its third year of operation, Walking
Fish established a second operation delivering to Raleigh, NC.
Based on the experience of CSA in the United States, we expect rapid expansion.
The first successful CSF started in Maine in 2007 (Port Clyde Fresh Catch), and
the website (established 2011) currently lists 32 CSF projects that
deliver seafood to more than 126 locations. In this article, we are interested in the
comparability of CSF and CSA in terms of both operations and more theoretical
questions about the communities created by CSA and CSF, the physical and social
distances involved, and the ‘‘nature’’ of the commodities in play. Although CSF
is loosely modeled on CSA, there are important differences between fishing and
agriculture that challenge the direct applicability of the CSA model to fisheries.
Nature’s difference makes a difference (McCarthy 2006), and we explore such
difference here.
In the following, we review the experience of CSA in the USA regarding efforts
to increase personal or community control over food systems and to reduce physical
and=or social distances between producers and consumers. We highlight two
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thematic concerns in both CSA and CSF: environment and community. We discuss
the challenges for fishers versus farmers in addressing these concerns and ask what
types of attitudes we expect to find among members toward them. For example, does
the nature of CSF versus CSA affect how members conceptualize the environmental
impacts of their participation? We then discuss research on CSA that highlights the
challenges of realizing the model’s theoretical goals in practice, and ask what this
implies for CSF.
With the comparison developed, we describe the Walking Fish CSF and a survey
of members participating in the inaugural season. These data represent the first
collected from CSF participants, and facilitate exploration of our academic interests
(e.g., in embedd ed economies; the nature of common pool resources) and practical
goals (e.g., to consider the potential of CSF in the long term). As students involved
in Walking Fish (Coppola, Stoll) and researchers studying changing fishing econom-
ies and communities (Boucquey, Campbell , Smith), we are interested in the potential
for CSF to address some of the problems associated with contemporary fisheries,
for the environment and fishing communities. Given current interest in local food
and expansion of CSF, this work is timely and relevant to academics, fishers, and
managers. We use the acronym CSF (and CSA) to refer to the general concept of
community-supported fisheries (and agriculture) and CSFs (and CSAs) to refer
collectively to CSF (and CSA) projects.
From CSA to CSF
The CSA Model
The first CSAs in the United States date to the 1980s, and there are currently an
estimated 2500 (Local Harvest 2010). CSA arose in response to concerns about
the globalization and industrialization of agriculture, including the increased use
of herbicides and pesticides; the homogenization of agricultural crops; the loss of
family farms and related change to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of
the countryside; and the distance and disconnect between food production and
consumption (Kloppenburg et al. 1996; O’Hara and Stagl 2001). More recently,
concerns over food security have been added (Allen 1999; Guthman et al. 2006).
CSA is one of various responses seeking to relocalize food production and consump-
tion (see Feagan 2007).
CSAs traditionally involve consumers prepurchasing a share in the crops of
a farm, thus sharing risks incurred by farmers growing local, often organic, food.
Farmers benefit from the trust and infusion of funds (and sometimes labor) from
members, and increase the net price they receive by eliminating the costs of getting
produce to market. CSA members receive fresh produce, the knowledge of where
and how their food is grown, an d the satisfaction of supporting their local farmer.
Farmers and members may develop close social ties, and a mutual appreciation of
their lifestyles (C arolan 2007; DeLind 2002). These ties are often central to CSAs,
which aim to distinguish themselves ‘‘from other types of direct agricultural
markets [by their] special emphasis on creating and building community around
the interwoven issues of food, land, and nature’ (Hinrichs 2000, 299). In many cases,
linkages are made between urban and rural (Feenstra 1997).
In theory, CSA makes explicit the social and environmental repercussions of
economic choices. Polanyi’s (1944) notion of embeddedness is often invoked
to describe how CSA represents an alternative to highly capitalized agricultural
90 L. M. Campbell et al.
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practices. For Polanyi, economic transactions are always embedded in broader social
and material relationships. He argues that modern social history is marked by
‘‘double movements’’ wherein expansions of the so-called ‘‘free’’ market system
are matched by political movements designed to reign in its more destructive
social repercussions. In this context, CSA is a coun termovement against the dis-
embedding of food markets from social life, and contemporary scholars extend
Polanyi’s analysis to include the environment (e.g., O’Hara and Stagl 2001). Feagan
and Henders on (2009) argue that the model has a radical economic orientation
based around the extension of social relationships and the idea of community. By
joining a CSA, members make a voluntary contribution to community and environ-
mental public goods, goods that the free market underprovides.
The concern with re-embedding markets in the social fabric of communities is
closely related to CSA’s emphasis on place and legible commodity chains. By cre-
ating local systems of growing and distributing food, CSA members are empowered
by knowing where their food comes from and who benefits from their purchases.
Hence CSA is also a political project ‘‘even if the immediate project objective seems
small’’ (Allen 1999, 120); movements to ‘‘eat local’’ may be expressions of resistance
to a global market system and a defense of the importance of place (Feagan 2007;
O’Hara and Stagl 2001). Some analysts question, however, whether an emphasis
on the local hides connections to larger economic networks or environmental
impacts (Kloppenburg et al. 1996; Watts et al. 2005), and others warn of ‘‘defensive’’
or ‘‘regressive’ localization and its effects (Feagan 2007; Goodman and Goodman
2007). Analyzing particular connections and reconnections made between food
producers and consumers, food production and particular places, and food produc-
tion and sociopolitical or economic change is thus key in work on food systems
(Winter 2003).
Thematic Concerns of CSAs and CSFs
How do concerns about agriculture that led to CSAs in the 1980s translate into
concerns about fishing and the emergence of CSFs in the 2000s? We compare several
ways the primary goals of CSA and CSF may be manifested differently, because of
the nature of fishing practices, resources, and ownership.
An estimated 96% of CSA farms are organic (Lass et al. 2003), reflecting their
opposition to intensive use of fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides in industrial agricul-
ture (Lyson and Guptill 2004; Wells et al. 1999). CSA marketers ‘‘quite clear ly
attempt to tie consumers’ food-buying patterns to considerations of conservation
and the environment’’ (Anderson-Wilk 2007, 126a), and CSA farmers are able
to distinguish their own environmental practices and products by being certified
organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (or equivalent designation in other
As with farming, there are interlinked environmental concerns associated with
fishing. Overfishing is one often-cited (but contested) concern, with 20%–30% of
federally monitored commercial fish species considered overfished (NOAA Fisheries
Service 2011). Efforts to ad dress this are complicated by the challenges of governing
so-called common-pool resources. Unlike farming, where landowners control
land use and thus can make claims about stewardship, in fishing there are various
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institutional arrangements that govern activities. Any arrangement must grapple
with two main issues: Fishery resources are subtractable (i.e., fish taken by one user
cannot be taken by another), and it can be difficult to exclude fishers. ‘‘Open access’’
occurs when no formal or informal access restrictions exist. Although true
open-access fisheries are rare (e.g., Mansfield 2004; St. Martin 2001; Berkes 2003),
the mobile nature of fish and fishers makes it difficult for CSFs to ‘‘prove’’ their
impacts. Unless CSFs have the means to address the problems of subtractability
and exclusion (via informal or formal mechanisms), their efforts to reduce environ-
mental impacts—for example, avoiding overfished species—can be undermined by
fishers operating in the same place who are not subject to CSF constraints.
A second environmental concern is the impacts of fishing on habitat (Watling
and Norse 1998) and on nontarget species (Crowder and Murawski 1998). Although
various nontarget species are caught as bycatch, the problem is particularly politi-
cized when protected and charismatic species are at stake (Campbell and Cornwell
2008). The problem of sea turtle bycatch in large-mesh gill nets is an ongoing issue
in North Carolina, a point we return to later. Fishers have some choice over what
gear types they fish with and what they target; however, while farmers may be able
to choose among crops and produce them using a variety of methods, fishers can
choose only among locally avail able species, and some species of fish can be caught
only with certain gear. This is a potential issue for CSFs; consumers may expect to
receive species of fish that cannot (at least with current methods) be caught without a
certain level of bycatch.
A third set of environmental concerns lies with the rise of industrial aquaculture
and the amounts of imported seafood in the United States. These concerns arise
from the environmental impacts of some aquaculture operations (Dierberg and
Kiattisimkul 1996), genetic manipulation of aquaculture species (Smith et al.
2010), and uncertainty about the impacts of fishing in places where fisheries are less
regulated. These environmental concerns are linked to others. Seafood consumers
may be concerned about impacts of aquaculture on habitat, health e ffects of anti-
biotic use, fossil fuels required to ship seafood to the United States, and effects of
relatively cheap imports on domestic fishers. CSFs offering wild-caught, domestic
seafood are well positioned to address these concerns.
Community, and how to create, sustain, or enhance it, is central to CSA. CSAs have
traditionally been concerned with loss of community via changes in rural land use,
including the loss of family farms (O’Hara and Stagl 2001). Community concerns
are matched in CSFs, and linked to declining commercial fishing (Hall-Arbor et al.
2001). These declines have several causes, including industry contractions after
overcapitalization in previous decades, management trends toward market-based
solutions such as catch shares that may lead to industry consolidation, and a globa-
lizing fish trade driving down domestic seafood prices and creating disincentives for
maintaining seafood processing infrastructure (Brewer 2011; Hanna et al. 2000;
McGoodwin 1990). In our study region, economic and cultural history centers on
the fishing industry and there is a widespread sense of loss stem ming from its decline
(Earley and Amspacher 2008; Maiolo 2004). These broad concerns are tightly inter-
twined with ideas about culture, family, and the future of local villages (Boucquey
et al. 2012; Campbell and Meletis 2011).
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While CSFs may share community-strengthening goals, the possibilities for
doing so are affected by the characteristics of fish and fishing, and the nature of
the threats to community. The ‘‘family farms’’ defended by CSAs are primarily
threatened by the consolidation and industrialization of farming. Although this is
true for some U.S. fisheries, the competition faced by fishers in Carteret County,
NC, is from imported seafood. Fishers are also subject to seasonal , spatial, and gear
restrictions that exacerbate their difficulties competing with inexpensive impor ts.
Nevertheless, CSFs could turn these challenges into strengths by emphasizing local,
low-impact, and in-season seafood products. As most conventional seafood travels
thousands of miles, opportunities to decrease the distance between production and
consumption through CSFs are considerable. However, as many places lack access
to the ocean or freshwater systems large enough to support commercial fishing,
CSFs will need to weigh questions about ‘‘local’’ and the extension of community
with questions about how many food-miles are considered environmentally and
socially acceptable. Though similar questions exist for CSA (Kloppenberg et al.
1996), distances are of a potentially different magnitude for CSF.
In CSA, there is an emphasis on ‘‘getting to know your farmer’’ through face-to-
face interactions that can include farm work (Feagan and Henderson 2009). Such
interactions may be difficult to achieve in CSF. First, it is unlikely that most people
would want to participate in commer cial fishing, and it could be a burden and liab-
ility for fishers to allow inexperienced people aboard their boa ts. Second, fishing
involves long hours, nighttime fishing, and unpredictable schedules, thus constrain-
ing potential interactions between fishers and consumers. Third, few fishers own
dock space or facilities where members could come to process fish or pick up their
shares. While the practice of farming is tied to a place that the farmer owns, fisher-
men do not own a place of fishing per se. Depending on how far CSF members are
from the coast, it could even be challenging for fishers to participate in deliveries.
Fourth, although individual farmers can run a CSA, individual fishers may find this
less feasible, given the unpredictability of fishing and the implications for consistent
product delivery. An intermediary may be needed to facilitate seafood transport, and
individual fishers may have to cooperate and combine catches. These factors mean
that the community-building possible through CSF will likely be different than what
is possible through CSA.
Implementing CSAs and CSFs
Research on CSA suggests the theoretical ideal has been elusive in practice. CSA
members remain highly cognizant of price, and often assess the value and amount
of produce they receive rather than their contribution to a farm (Feagan and
Henderson 2009; Hinrichs 2000; McIlvaine-Newsad et al. 2008). Many members
conceptualize CSA as a different kind of vegetable market, rather than an alternative
to market. Farmers have difficulty thinking of member investments extending
beyond the weekly transaction, when they ‘‘owe’’ members produce (Feagan and
Henderson 2009), and they tend to devalue their labor and rarely charge enough
to cover retirement or health benefits (Brown and Miller 2008). Thus, the ambition
to create highly supportive economic relationships between farmers and community
members is not necessarily reflected in mainstream CSA.
Similarly, people’s primary motives for joining CSAs focus on the value and
quality of the food. Brehm and Eisenhauer (2008) found that a desire for ‘‘fresh,’’
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‘‘pesticide free,’’ and ‘‘locally grown food’’ was the most important motivator, fol-
lowed by a desire to support local farmers and the local economy. People were
not motivated to build community or social capital. O’Hara and Stagl (2001) found
that environmental concerns were the most important; although member s wanted to
support local farms, they were less interested in building relationships. Feagan and
Henderson (2009) distinguish between the ‘‘supporting’’ and ‘‘sharing’’ elem ents of
CSAs, and suggest that most people are interested in ‘‘supporting’’ farmers rather
than in ‘‘sharing’’ in things like decision making, labor, or social relationships.
How people conceptualize the purpose and role of CSA within their socio-
economic lives, and wheth er this matters in terms of the work CSA does to reduce
some of the social and economic distances involved in food production, remain ope n
questions. These are equally relevant for CSF, but may be answered differently.
Although CSA and CSF members may share motives for participating, and projects
may share basic philosophies and structures, we have identified several challenges
facing CSF based on the nature of the resources involved. In particular, CSF faces
constraints on the ability to change the environmental impacts of fishing and to
build community through face-to-face inter action. We turn now to explore these
issues with the case of Walking Fish and our survey of the participants from the
pilot season of 2009.
The Walking Fish CSF
Graduate students at Duke University’s NSOE launched Walking Fish in September
2009. In March 2009, the group presented the idea to Carteret Catch, a coalition of
fishers, restaurant owners, and fisheries researchers promoting locally caught
seafood in Carteret Count y, NC. During the summer of 2009, the students met with
Carteret Catch several times, to provide updates, seek input, and address the orga-
nization’s questions and concerns. Students researched the local seafood industry,
seafood availability and regulations, and consumer demand and preferences. They
created a website (, began an advertising network, and worked
with a seafood processor and retailer, Fishtowne, in Carteret County wher e the
Duke Marine Lab is based, to develop a business model that would cover the costs
of processing and transportation and pay fishers a higher price for their catch.
The goals of Walking Fish were to increase consumer access to local seafood,
offer fishers higher prices, support a dialog about local food systems, fisheries,
marine conservation, and community development, and develop a model that could
be adapted elsewhere (Stoll et al. 2010). The goals were framed in terms of a ‘‘triple
bottom line’’ seeking to balance the social, economic, and environmental. Although
project organizers were concerned about the plight of NC fishing communities,
some members of Carteret Catch and the larger fishing community wer e initially
suspicious of Walking Fish and its environmental goals. As the project continued
and the role of fishers increased (described later), suspicion mostly abated, and the
original goals have remained in place.
Walking Fish’s partnership with Fishtowne facilitated the logistics of processing
large quantities of fresh seafood and driving it 175 miles inland. Fishtowne dr ew on
existing and new relations with fishers to fill orders and fishers received 30%
premium for their catch (Stoll et al. 2010). Although the students and their donated
labor were initially critical to the project, a group of fishers and Fishtowne formed
a cooperative to take over Walking Fish in fall 2011, and revenues are sufficient
94 L. M. Campbell et al.
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to employ two part-time coordinators. Walking Fish has received positive press
coverage in local (Duke University New Service 2009), regional (The State of Things
2009), and national media (Duchene 2010) and inspired a second North Carolina
CSF, formed in June 2010. Although there have been technical, political, and econ-
omic challenges throughout the project, it met and exceeded most of the organizers’
One challenge is relevant for the analysis that follows. In February 2010, during
the first year and second season of Walking Fish, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle
Rescue and Rehabilitation Center filed a lawsuit in federal court against the North
Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NC-DMF) for authorizing the use of gills
nets in waters not covered by an ‘‘incidental take’’ (i.e., bycatch) permit for federally
protected sea turtles, as required by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Some gill nets
experience high levels of bycatch of various species, and large-mesh gill nets can be
problematic for sea turtles. In Carteret County, many small boat inshore fishers use
large mesh gill nets to catch flounder, one of the region’s most important commercial
species (NC-DMF 2011).
Duke University’s Environmental Law Clinic, a joint initiative of Duke’s Law
School and NSOE, represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The bycatch lawsuit
was profiled in a variety of Duke media on campus, where most Walking Fish
members are based, and some Walking Fish organizers suggested excluding large-
mesh gill net caught species (i.e., flounder) from CSF offerings. However, excluding
flounder had the potential to make the CSF unviable for three reasons. First,
Walking Fish might not have been able to fill orders. Second, Duk e’s role in the
lawsuit exacerbated suspicion about Walking Fish’s environm ental goals, and
excluding flounder would have confirmed some fishers’ worst fears. Third, student
organizers were committed to the project’s goals to support fishing communities
and recognized that the repercussions of the bycatch lawsuit were potentially
profound. After intense negotiations among organiz ers, they decided to continue
to include flounder in the CSF. This context provides additional insights into the
motives and commitments of CSF participants discussed in the following.
Walking Fish Member Survey
Results are from a survey of Walking Fish members in the 2009 inaugural season.
The online survey had 32 questions, on participant demographics, motivations and
satisfaction, prior seafood purchasing and consumption habits, and participation in
and perceptions of local food systems in general. Most questions used a 5-point
Likert scale and there were a number of ranking questions related to preferences,
for example, the popularity of particular species provided in the CSF.
We focus on a subset of questions that asked respondents to identify the most
important motive for participating; assess the extent to which CSF can address
environment, community, and other concerns (referred to as CSF potential
questions); and provide feedback on any part of the CSF. In addition, responses
to questions related to satisfaction with the CSF, seafood consumption habits,
and interest in local food systems help to contextualize respondent participation in
the CSF.
The survey was repeated in the CSF’s third season (fall 2010), but we focus on
the 2009 data because we lack the means to avoid double counting (e.g., of 264
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respondents to the 2010 survey, 127 had also participated in 2009 and may have
completed the survey both times). The exception is that we consider the open-ended
comments in both years, to capture those made before and after the bycatch lawsuit.
Walking Fish Member Responses
We received 226 completed surveys, and 19 partially completed surveys with usable
data, for a total of 245 responses and a response rate of 61%. Respondents were
generally positive about the potential of CSF to address a variety of concerns, which
was not surprising given that they chose to participate in Walking Fish. Neverthe-
less, there are subtle and sometimes significant differences in responses, which we
explore further under the categories of environment, community, and other motives.
Only 13% of respondents identified the environmental benefits of eating local
seafood as their primary motive for participating (Table 1), although the majority
were positive about the environmental potential of CSF (Table 2). However, when
compared with other CSF potential questions, more respondents expressed
uncertainty or doubt about environmental potential, that is, the ability of CSF to
minimize the negative impacts of seafood pricing (18% were uncertain or doubted
this) or of their own seafood consumption (21%) on the environment. The response
distributions for these two questions are significantly different from all of those
related to potential impacts on community (Table 2).
In open-ended comments, few respondents mentioned environmental aspects of
the CSF. Almost all comments were negative (Table 3), and all negative comments
concerned gill nets. For example, one participant wrote:
I would like to encourage Walking Fish to take a ‘‘no gill net’’ stance.
While I realize that gill nets are legal ..., they are an unsustainable fishing
method. I would be willing to pay MORE for a gill net free share. (2009)
In fall 2010, the first Walking Fish season following settlement of the bycatch
lawsuit, co mments on the environmental aspects of the CSF were fewer, but in
a similar vein:
I love the food I get, and I love the fact that I’m supporting local
fishers. However, I do worry about the environm ental impact of seafood
consumption in general and the impact of specific fishing methods
specifically. Keep walking that line, be honest, and thanks! (2010)
Table 1. Primary motive for participating in the Walking Fish CSF
Motive Percent respondents
Access to fresh, high-quality seafood 55
Support North Carolina fishers and their communities 22
Environmental benefits of eating local seafood 13
Desire to increase seafood consumption 4
Other 6
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Table 2. The environmental, economic, community, and health potential of CSF
(% of respondents)
agree Agree Unsure Disagree
1. Purchasing fish from a CSF is a
way to support local fishers and
their communities
90 8 0 0 2
2. A CSF is a way to counter the
disadvantaged position of NC
fishers in a seafood market
dominated by cheap foreign imports
70 19 8 1 1
3. Local seafood is higher quality than
nonlocal seafood
63 25 10 0 1
4. Fishing communities need help if
they are to survive in the face of
increased coastal development
59 29 12 0 1
5. Eating more fish will improve my
overall health
52 34 11 2 1
6. Purchasing fish from a CSF is a
way to challenge seafood pricing
that discounts environmental
impacts of fishing
51 32 16 1 1
7. Purchasing fish from a CSF is likely
to decrease the overall
environmental impact of my
seafood consumption
39 40 16 3 2
8. A CSF provides seafood at lower
prices than other purchasing
16 27 38 17 1
Note. Pairwise comparison using Fisher’s exact test shows response distributions to com-
munity potential questions 1, 2, and 4 were significantly different from response distributions
to environmental potential questions 6 and 7.
Table 3. Summary of responses to open-ended solicitation for feedback
(% of respondents)
(n ¼ 59
(n ¼ 39
responses) Common themes
Positive 46 37 General enthusiasm; seafood
quality; support fishers; local
food; CSF community
51 33 Organization=logistics; cho ice;
Complaint 4 29 Variety; specific species;
preparation; environment
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Supporting fishing communities was the second most frequently selected primary
motive for participating (Table 1), and respondents were confident in the ability
of the CSF to deliver such support; they agreed that CSFs support local fishermen
and their communities (98% ), CSFs can help fishers compete in a market dominated
by cheaper foreign imports (89%), and coastal communities need help to survive
in the face of coastal development (88%) (Table 2).
In open-ended comments, those relating to supporting local fishers were the
second most frequent positive comments (Table 3).
I especially liked that this project allowed me to enjoy a good product,
while at the same time supporting local NC fishermen. I am a native
North Carolinian and aware of the changes occurring along the NC coast
and of the challenges these pose for local fishermen and their families.
I hope that this project provided them with benefits and opportunities,
as well. (2009)
Some respondents recognized the distance between members and fishers, but valued
the community-building nonetheless:
And please express my grati tude to the fishers. Not only is Walking Fish
helping me feed my family good food, it’s helping me raise grateful
kids. ...I think it’s important that my guys know who is feeding them,
and even if the fishers can’t hear them, I like my boys to say thanks. (2010)
One respondent expressed a desire to spend a day on a fishing boat, and several
commented appreciatively on or wanted more information about specific fishers.
Two respondents questioned support for local fishing communities, suggesting that
the CSF should ensure proper working conditions for paid laborers, and that the
Walking Fish model might undermine other initiatives to promote local seafood that
do not benefit from free student labor. These views were exceptional (in number,
tone, and level of detail), and contrasted with many general statements asserting
positive benefits of Walking Fish for fishing communities.
Open-ended comments also reflect interest in a second type of community:
I love the way Duke students, Durham residents, and local fishermen all
team up for this. This kind of community building is really inspiring and
healthy. (I specifically like seeing Duke supporting our local industries.)
But the best part for me was the way this turned into ‘‘community
building’’ wi thin my own family. We’d plan weekly dinners together on
Fish Night, get all excited to see what kind of fish was coming, and trying
new recipes, and cooking together. ...It was really fun! (2009)
The sense of a CSF community is echoed in comments posted on the website’s members’
forum, where one participant who also helped on pick-up days posted as follows:
‘‘Mr. Smith [pseudonym], you have a choice this week! Would you like
a pound and a half of shrimp, or a mix of shrimp and flounder.’’ Flipping
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the page of the cookbook and without looking up, Mr. Smith said
slowly in his heavy accent, ‘‘Hmmmmmm, I don’t know. This is a very
existential question, you know?’ The member next to him chuckled.
The idea of a smile worked its way onto his face. ...I wish I could remem-
ber what he chose, but don’t. What I do remember was the feeling I had.
That we had had a moment ...we were creating community. We have 4
more weeks in this fir st season of Walking Fish and ...I am confident
that by the end I will have done something more special; become part
of a group that in our own small way will change the world. (Walking
Fish volunteer, 2009)
The desire for community is reflected even in respondent complaints:
I felt like I was a little too anonymous at some points. ...I got the fish
every week, but the account was in my wife’s name, and every single week
I had the same conversation ...about me picking things up for my wife. I
understand there are a lot of people doing this, but after 8 or 9 weeks I
had hoped that something would change. (2010)
Other Motives and Tensions Among Them
Most survey respondents (55%) identified a desire for fresh, high-quality seafood as
their primary motive for participating (Table 1), and 88% of respondents believe
locally caught fish to be of higher quality than nonlocal seafood (Table 2). Respon-
dents were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of seafood, and among positive
open-ended comments, quality of seafood was most often praised. Quality was asso-
ciated with freshness and linked to seafood being local. This enthusiasm for seafood
contrasts with participants’ prior consumption habits. Prior to the CSF, the majority
of respondents (63%) ate fish two or three times a month or less and few (15%)
purchased their fish from specialty fish markets. The desire for fresh, high-quality
seafood comes with a cost; although 43% of respondents believed the CSF provided
seafood at lower prices, 56% were uncertain or believed prices were higher.
Regardless, 88% were satisfied with price.
Respondents were enthusiastic overall. Ninety-five percent were satisfied or very
satisfied, 93% were likely to participate again, and 95% would recommend the pro-
gram. Nonetheless, one complaint dominated the open-ended comments: variety of
species received. Most complained that there was not enough variety or choice;
others complained about getting too little of species they liked and too much of
species they did not like. Comments suggest varied levels of commitment to the
CSF model:
I wish the variety were greater, BUT on the other hand, I don’t create
much variety when I’m buying for myself either. Of course I realize
you can’t grow different fish like you can veggies. ...(2010)
There wasn’t nearly the variation I had hoped for—it was mostly small
whitefish. I would have really liked to see some more clams, shrimp,
crabs, oysters, or a wider variety of fish. (2009)
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Most common among complaints about specific species were those relating to spot
and jumping mullet (Figure 1), two locally abundant species.
The jumping mullet was an incredibly unsatisfying choice. For the money
paid and the quality of the other seafood that we received, the jumping
mullet was just awful. (2009)
Our weekly cost far outweighs what a fish like this costs. I would rather
not have a delivery at all than a trash fish like spot. (2010)
The most striking differen ce between Walking Fish member motives an d those ident-
ified in CSA research is how few of the former are environmental. CSF members also
express higher uncertainty about environmental outcomes than others. Where we
find more similarity with CSA are in the dominant motives; Walking Fish members
want to obtain high-quality, fresh, local seafood and support local fishing commu-
nities. However, results from CSA research suggest that both ‘‘local’’ and
‘‘community’’ need to be further scrutinized. We do so in the following sections,
by discussing our results in the context of three issues associated with this case:
(1) large-mesh gill net fisheries; (2) jumping mullet and spot; and (3) distance
between Walking Fish fishers and members.
Fishing with Large Mesh Gill Nets in North Carolina
Controversy over sea turtle bycatch in large-mesh gill nets was high during Walking
Fish’s first year of operation, and Duke was implicated in the bycatch lawsuit.
Although some survey respondents complained about large-mesh gill nets, the issue
was less controversial than Walking Fish organizers expected. Indeed, there were
fewer complaints after the lawsuit was resolved, when awareness of gill nets was pre-
sumably higher. Given the strong emphasis by CSA participants on environmental
issues (Brehm and Eisenhauer 2008; Lass et al. 2003), we found the result surprising.
Figure 1. Jumping mullet ( Mugil cephalus). Photo by Joshua Stoll.
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The lack of attention to bycatch and environmental concerns more generally
could be due to several factors. First, respondents may not have been aware of
the gill net controversy; it may have been too ‘‘distant’’ (physically and socially)
for Durham-based CSF members. Second, for 2010 respondents, Walking Fish
may have done a good job explaining its decision on flounder, or respondents may
have believed the lawsuit settlement ‘‘solved’’ the bycatch problem. Third, members
may recognize the difficulties fishers have in guaranteeing environmental sustainabil-
ity, and this could translate into their low interest in or expectations of the CSF in
this regard.
Although our data cannot answer the question of why survey respondents did
not express more environmental concern, the gill net problem also illustrates the
tensions among goals of supporting fishing communities and promoting environ-
mental sustainability. In including flounder in the CSF cooler, Walking Fish osten-
sibly prioritized the former. However, the choice was also informed by the nature of
fisheries resources. Organizers knew that regardless of their decision, flounder would
continue to be fished by non-CSF fishers (and by CSF fishers selling through other
channels), though with more restrictions after the lawsuit settlement.
The Problem of Spot and Jumping Mullet
Including spot and jumping mullet in the CSF cooler meets many of Walking Fish’s
goals. As locally abundan t, low-value species, spot and jumping mullet subsidize the
inclusion of other species, keeping overall share costs lower for members and earning
a premium for fishers. Caught with small-mesh gill nets often deployed and retrieved
with a ‘‘strike’’ method, these species are not known to be associated with bycatch.
Developing market s for them could reduce pressure on less abundant species, and
their inclusion reinforces Walking Fish’s interest in promoting locally abundant,
seasonal fish. That spot and jumping mullet are consumed by fishers and long-time
coastal residents offers opportunities for community building, by intr oducing urban
consumers to locally eaten seafood. This is parallel to the goals of many CSAs that
emphasize the ‘‘uniqueness’’ of particular places and reassert the value of local food
production (Allen 1999; Andreatta et al. 2008; Feagan 2007).
However, many members resisted inclusion of the very fish that required the
fewest trade-offs among Walking Fish goals. In contrast, desired species—in parti-
cular, flounder—are at the center of the gill net controversy. Com bined with the gen-
eral complaints about variety, these results reflect findings from the CSA literature
that consumers have difficulty accepting fewer or different product choices (Feagan
and Henderson 2009; Hinrichs 2000). Although share-buying CSF memb ers
theoretically agree to accept what is caught and=or nothing, many assess price per
cooler and want greater say about cooler contents. This may mirror the problem
of homogenization in agriculture (McIlvaine-Newsad et al. 2008); if con sumers
have grown accustomed to seeing particular species on every menu (e.g., shrimp,
tuna, or salmon), they may resist learning about new species or have difficulty
acquiring a taste for them.
Distance, Community, and Localness
Opportunities for direct interaction between fishers and members are constrained
by the 175 miles between Carteret County and Durham. When fishers participate
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in distribution, the interaction occurs in a Duke University parking lot—consumer
rather than producer territory. CSF participants seem untroubled by this distance
and, since muc h of the seafood consumed in the USA is imported, 175 miles
represents a significant reduction in the material distance between production and
consumption. Overall, most respondents seem satisfied with a ‘‘supporting’’ rather
than ‘‘sharing’’ relationship.
And yet, face-to-face communities are being built among participants and
among fishers. In the first case, the logistics of distributing fresh seafood requires
members to come together over a short period of time. Respondents express the
sense that they are participating in something important and good, and are proud
to be part of Duke’s effort to do something for the community. Neighbors
sometimes share memberships and cook together, and participants describ e the
‘‘fun’’ and sometimes ‘‘joy’’ of cooking fish with their families and friends. Thus,
a CSF community independent of direct interaction with fishers has developed
and is valued by members.
In the second case, a new community has been built among fishers who, with
Fishtowne, formed a cooperative in 2011 to take over Walking Fish. Given the num-
ber of people involved in fisheries who told us a cooperative was a ‘‘non-starter’’ and
would ‘‘never work,’’ this is particularly remarkable. We suggest that the reality of
the contemporary fishing economy in Carteret County and the CSF opportunity
provided incentives for some fishers to experiment. Supplying the CSF necessitated
cooperation, and thus the new business model resulted in new forms of social organi-
zation. Although not the community building envisioned in the original CSA model,
community has been built.
The unique emerging communities within CSF raise further questions about
the relationships between natural resources, social systems and economic markets.
As St. Martin (2006, 170) asks in relation to his work with New England fishers:
Does the emergence of community herald an opening=disruption in
dominant forms of economic discour se such that community and cultural
processes might be seen as fundamentally part of economies and the
natural resource regimes they constitute?
Applied to the Walking Fish experience, this question returns to the idea of
embedded economies. Our findings suggest that the CSF model has the potential
to foster new social ties among some community groups and new conversations
about how particular economic choices (i.e., selling or buying fish in a CSF) might
also encompass cultural values. To what extent these conversations and activities are
consciously enacted as ‘‘countermovements’’ against a larger seafood regime or are
manifestations of more immediate financial and social interests are questions for
ongoing research.
Unlike early CSAs, CSFs are developing amidst widespread interest in ‘‘local’’
foods. In just one of many examples published over the last yea r, the food magazine
Bon Appe
tit listed CSFs as 1 of 25 ‘‘top food trends’’ for 2012. While CSA and other
alternative food movements have long argued for more local sourcing (O’Hara
and Stagl 2001; Watts et al. 2005), the local food trend is now mainstream, with
interest arguably surpassing that for organic (Goodman and Goodman 2007).
Various ideas—about environment, economy, what constitutes ‘‘good’’ food, and
geography—are combined in and conflated with a local food system (Feagan
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2007). Walking Fish members may assume that eating local achieves a variety of
things, but these were infrequentl y specified in the survey. Research among CSA
members, though, has found that in idealizing local farms, members perceive
benefits ‘‘ranging from perceptions of better taste to higher-order meanings related
to cultural ideals of safety, rural authenticity, [and] anti-materialistic moral virtues’’
(Thompson and Coskuner-Balli 2007, 292). Further research is necessary to
determine how CSF participants conceptualize ‘‘the local’’ and to what extent this
influences their beliefs about what CSF accomplishes.
Although the ‘‘localness’’ of Walking Fish was mostly unquestioned by
members, it was discussed among the organ izers and occasionally challenged by
outside observers (e.g., fishers not supplying Walking Fish, other students at Duke).
Questions about how geographically proximate one must be to be ‘‘local’’ relate both
to the existence of Walking Fish and some of its central challenges. For Walking
Fish, the student-led organization was an intermediary, facilitating the transfer of
fish from producer to consumer and receiving a share of the profits for doing so.
For some, this is the type of ‘‘middleman’’ that local food systems should eschew.
However, this was not a problem identified by survey respo ndents, and it may be
useful to expand characterizations of ‘‘alternative food networks’ to consider not
only length of supply chains, but their character as compared to capitalist ‘‘norms’’
(Watts et al. 2005). When run by students, Walking Fish’s share of profits was
reinvested in project infrastructure and, if anything, the project was criticized for
not being ‘‘capitalist’’ enough, with expressed concerns that it alienates fishers
who share a different economic philosophy, promotes an uns ustainable business
model, and undermines other efforts to improve fishing economies that do not en joy
the subsidy of free student labor.
Overall, our initial experiences with and research on the Walking Fish CSF suggest
that some of the theoretical benefits of CSA, now pursued by CSF, will be difficult to
realize in practice. Although many reasons for this are similar for CSF and CSA
(e.g., member inter est in supporting rather than sharing relationships; value-for-
money assessments), others arise from the nature of fishery resources. In particular,
it is unclear how CSFs will effectively address environmental concerns associated
with conventional fisheries, and we suspect this ability will be highly context depen-
dent. It is also unclear that this matters to CSF participants. The limitations on
face-to-face community building among fishers and members also arise from the
physical distance between fishing communities and CSF members, and the nature
of fisheries work. Although we find community building among fishers and among
CSF members, the more limited community building acro ss these groups does raise
questions. If members are unable to identify with fishers, will this impact member
retention? Will it reinforce rather than reduce the perceived social distance between
these groups, allowing assumptions about the other to remain unchallenged?
The economic situation in many U.S. fishing communi ties is such that new
models and options are needed, as evidenced in the recent rapid growth of CSF.
If CSF is to be more than a financial option, further work is required to understand
the possibilities for and constraints on its potential to contribute to an alternative
food system, with social, environmental, economic, and ethical components. To move
forward with this work, we suggest several key areas of research that nature–society
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and food systems scholars might pursue. First, in-depth qualitative research is
needed with both fisher and consumer participants in different CSFs to better under-
stand the perspectives and motivations of each group and to compare experiences
across regions and CSF organizational systems. Second, research focusing more
closely on the microeconomics of both fisher and consumer decision making could
illuminate how these groups are benefiting (or not) from the CSF model. Finally,
implications for CSFs in relation to existing and emerging fishery management
policies and institutions (e.g., catch shares, sectors, marine spatial planning ), as well
as growing aquaculture practices, need to be examined. Engaging with these
questions will enhance our practical and theoretical understanding of the role CSFs
might play in the foodscapes of the future.
Thanks to Walking Fish organizers Nick Mallos, Alexis Ramirez, Kim Gordon, and
Jen Bruce for their contributions to the survey, and we are grateful to Walking Fish
members who completed it.
Funding for the research was provided by the Duke Univeristy Marine Lab.
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... Alternative seafood networks (ASNs) are seafood distribution models that aim to shorten or restructure seafood supply chains in order to promote a variety of economic, environmental, and social values (Bolton et al., 2016;Brinson et al., 2011;Campbell et al., 2014;McClenachan et al., 2014;A. L. Witter, 2020). ...
... Existing literature on alternative seafood businesses has called for further research into a variety of topics. These include: how ASN operators conceptualize terms like "local" and "alternative"; to what extent these values influence their beliefs about what alternative food movements accomplish (Campbell et al., 2014); and finally, how flexibility and plurality within alternative food movements influences the space (Bolton et al., 2016). Understanding value diversity in ASNs will address these knowledge gaps and also contribute to literature on alternative food movements more generally, which are often criticized for not having a singular definition. ...
... While interest in alternative food movements has been growing, the space largely remains undefined in academic literature. Generally, these alternative models have only been defined in comparison to their larger, industrial counterparts (Campbell et al., 2014;DesRivières et al., 2017;Marsden & Franklin, 2013;Pratt, 2009;A. Witter & Stoll, 2017). ...
Full-text available
The globalization of the seafood industry has prompted the creation of alternative business models that seek to resist the industrialization of the industry, while promoting a specific set of core social and environmental values that ostensibly deviate from the global mainstream. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, actors in this "alternative" space emerged as a visible feature of the global seafood distribution system. By restructuring and shortening seafood supply chains, alternative seafood networks (ASNs) are reasserting the importance of a specific set of values in food systems for both environmental and socio-cultural reasons. This thesis explores the diversity of businesses within the alternative seafood space and how this diversity has emerged and changed over time. It also draws comparisons from food systems literature to understand the implications of too much diversity within the alternative seafood space. Finally, this thesis also explores the challenges ASN operators face and opportunities to address them. This work is an opportunity to explore the current and future role of ASNs in the broader seafood economy. iii
... While seafood harvested in a certain area may be considered "local" and can represent freshness, environmental stewardship, and support for regional maritime economies (Campbell et al. 2014), similar to the organic labeling of seafood, little clarity exists when it comes to the definition of local seafood. Some seafood harvesters, such as Port Clyde Fresh Catch in Maine, USA, and Carteret Catch in North Carolina, USA, have developed local branding strategies for wild harvested products that use the community supported fishery model to sell their locally, environmentally consciously harvested products. ...
Coastal communities are host to a suite of economic, cultural, and natural resources, and are often focused around a core such as tourism, beaches, fisheries, or processing. In nearly all cases, coastal communities survive based upon the resources in the surrounding coastal areas and water. As wild fisheries begin to stagnate, many traditional fishing communities are forced to look elsewhere for economic sustenance. While tourism or real estate may provide relief, residents often require a more stable, year-round income. Some coastal communities have begun to transition away from wild fisheries and towards marine aquaculture, or, the cultivation of marine animals and plants for food. Although marine aquaculture is not a new phenomenon, much of it has been focused on the farming of finfish, such as salmon. Shellfish and seaweed farms, on the other hand, have only recently begun to emerge in coastal communities, often as small, family-owned businesses, employing local residents. Although the shellfish and seaweed sectors of the marine aquaculture industry are eager to expand, little research has been done on these two sectors. This analysis uses economic methods and data from choice experiments and a survey in order to assess consumer preferences for farm-raised and wild harvested shellfish and seaweed salad. The assessment explains consumer preferences and their potential impacts on harvesters, coastal communities, and natural resource use. The first chapter investigates consumer preferences for shellfish and seaweed salad attributes including production process (farm raised, wild harvested), certification (organic, sustainably harvested, non-certified), and origin (home state, U.S., imported). Data from a nationwide coastal online survey and conjoint experiments for oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, and seaweed salad were used to determine consumer willingness to pay for these attributes. A random parameter mixed logit model shows that consumers are willing to pay more for products that are wild harvested, certified, or from their home state. This research can be used to improve marketing and to facilitate producer and policy decisions for the sustainable expansion of aquaculture. The second chapter more closely analyzes the potential impacts the research could have on the aquaculture industry using both quantitative and qualitative data for farm-raised seafood. We explore seafood consumer purchasing habits and find that seafood labeling plays a large role in the purchasing process, and could thus benefit farmers by presenting them with a medium to highlight the origin and any certification of their products. Results suggest that this could be an extremely effective tool for receiving higher prices when products are sold within the state in which they are produced. The results of this work will be relayed directly to members of the seafood industry through future publication in an industry journal. Understanding consumer preferences for shellfish and seaweed salad is crucial as many coastal communities are forced to shift away from their traditional economic dependence upon wild fisheries. This research has implication for the wild harvest industry, aquaculture industry, natural resource policy and management, and coastal communities. Improved knowledge of consumer preferences could allow for shellfish and seaweed harvesters and farmers to garner price premiums while maintaining sustainable ecological methods. This could potentially increase stable, year-round jobs in coastal communities in harvesting, processing, transportation, and more. As many coastal communities face issues including a changing local economy and climate, this information will become increasingly more important, as it will allow for coastal community residents and policy makers to make better-informed decisions for the long-term success of these communities.
... The question of why fishers are exiting or considering exiting fishing is important for achieving sustainable development goals related to responsible production and consumption in developed nations. Local fish consumption is perceived as a healthy alternative by an increasing number of consumers who are looking for an environmental-friendly protein supply (Campbell et al. 2014). Without an adequate number of SSF, local fish consumption has limited chances to develop, since the large-scale fishery is associated with industrial, corporate-owned, irresponsible production and fish for fishmeal reduction. ...
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Fisheries’ supply of ecosystem services depends on recruiting, maintaining and—in cases of overfishing—preventing fishers’ participation. Participation is influenced by fishers’ levels of job satisfaction and a variety of motivations that cannot be reduced to income size. Previous research on fishers’ job satisfaction has applied Maslow’s hierarchy of basic, socio-psychological and self-actualization needs. Using these as three categories of co-existing rather than hierarchical needs, we investigate Swedish fishers’ motivations for considering fisheries exit. Our results suggest that more than half of fishers are considering exiting and that they identify conflicts with seals (31%), environmental policies (17%) and performance of government agencies (16%) as their main reasons. These motivations, we argue, impact simultaneously basic, socio-psychological and self-actualization needs. Accordingly, fishers’ motivations for participation-exit decisions are not solely, and may not be primarily, monetary. A better understanding of fishers’ motivations, particularly non-monetary ones, would improve fisheries management.
... With special concern to fisheries, co-management can emerge or benefit from institutional innovations because these can bring about the construction of alternative markets for local and traditional seafood products (Goodman, 2003;Campbell et al., 2014;McCleanachan et al., 2014;Marsden, 2018;Salladarrè et al., 2018;Makuta, 2018;Chiodo et al., 2019), as it has also been observed in the case studies. ...
Initiatives of artisanal fisheries co-management and the construction of differentiated markets for seafood products have been emerging in different parts of the world, as an institutionalized way of coping with a global fishery crisis. This paper analyses some institutionalization processes of artisanal mollusc fisheries, considering the role of co-management in two Brazilian and Italian protected areas (Resex Pirajubaé and Conero Regional Park). Within a theoretical framework aiming at moving beyond the dualism between nature and society, the methodology of multiple-case-study has been used to carry on research about mollusc artisanal fisheries co-management networks in their constitution and development. The paper analyses how these networks are organised in the two contexts and the relations social actors have been developing for a sustainable fishery as a possible way to influence and increase their capacity to address environmental crisis. In the artisanal mollusc fishery co-management experiences, fishers’ participation may favour institutional innovations and the co-management networks stability may be generated by the institutions legitimacy. Furthermore, the case studies offer complementary insights to better understand the linkage between artisanal fishery institutionalization processes, common natural resources co-management and value aggregation for traditional seafood. Artisanal mollusc fishery co-management experiences should be stimulated and investigated since they can help in diagnosing early climate and environmental changes in the oceans.
... Like alternative food networks in the agricultural sector (c.f. Whatmore et al., 2003;Goodman et al., 2012), which emerged in response to problems in terrestrial food systems, ASNs aim to address perceived economic, social, and environmental issues associated with the global seafood system-including but not limited to concerns about overfishing, industrialization, privatization, and the disappearance of smallscale and community-based fishing operations (Brinson et al., 2011;Campbell et al., 2014;McClenachan et al., 2014;Stoll et al., 2015). The literature also refers to ASNs as direct marketing arrangements (Stoll et al., 2015), community supported fisheries (Bolton et al., 2016), and relational seafood supply chains . ...
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Export-oriented seafood trade faltered during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, alternative seafood networks (ASNs) that distribute seafood through local and direct marketing channels were identified as a "bright spot." In this paper, we draw on multiple lines of quantitative and qualitative evidence to show that ASNs experienced a temporary pandemic "bump" in both the United States and Canada in the wake of supply chain disruptions and government mandated social protections. We use a systemic resilience framework to analyze the factors that enabled ASNs to be resilient during the pandemic as well as challenges. The contrast between ASNs and the broader seafood system during COVID-19 raises important questions about the role that local and regional food systems may play during crises and highlights the need for functional diversity in supply chains.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) plays a significant role in improving consumers' access to fresh and high-quality fruits and vegetables, often at lower prices than in grocery stores. Correspondingly, consumers’ participation in CSAs is connected with their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs regarding healthy eating. Being of such social significance, research on CSA can attract the attention of scholars from a variety of fields, including human nutrition, sustainable development and consumer behaviors. This paper aims to map the research front of Community Supported Agriculture in order to identify the main themes and further research directions. The study examines 242 scientific articles on CSA over the last three decades by conducting bibliometric analyses via VOSviewer software, including on the co-occurrence of keywords and bibliometric coupling of documents, and it combines the latter with a systematic literature review. The study contributes to the development of research on CSA by identifying leading thematic clusters in the field. The analyses suggest that the most promising directions of research on CSA focus on consumers, their nutrition and health, as well as on social change led by CSA. These findings suggest that addressing societal and environmental problems serves as a particularly promising and contemporarily significant ground for CSA research by scholars of different disciplines.
Shrimp farming in Southeast Asia is often touted as a globalisation success story. The region emerged as a key area for farmed shrimp production in the 1990s, and it remains a leading producer of shrimp for export to international markets to this day. This achievement has not, however, been without cost. Small-scale shrimp farmers in Southeast Asia have suffered persistent social, economic and environmental dislocations stemming from price pressures imposed by globalisation and neoliberal economic policies in the seafood sector. Community supported fisheries (CSF) represent an alternative marketing model which could potentially support small-scale producers in Southeast Asia whose viability is threatened by the intensification of shrimp production by large corporate interests. This article investigates opportunities for CSF in the region, encourages research that builds social capital in aquaculture communities, and identifies opportunities to link small-scale shrimp farming operations with local markets that seek high quality seafood produced in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner.
The sustainability of global fisheries has emerged as a major concern for the future of marine biodiversity. In the spheres of seafood production and consumption, strict regulation of fisheries and more recently, ethical certifications of seafood products, are favoured as a means to ensure thriving fish stocks and healthy oceans. However, research has shown that such restrictions and market-driven certifications have had mixed results, with socio-ecological impacts detrimental to the long-term sustainability of tropical fisheries in the Global South. We approach this issue of fisheries sustainability in the Global South from the perspective of common pool resources by considering the practices of seafood producers, retailers and consumers, and their inter-connectedness with marine fishing commons. We build on critical literature on commoning using data on consumption preferences of 531 seafood consumers and seafood availability in 400 seafood restaurants across 4 metros in India, and examine the extent to which seafood consumption patterns and availability can facilitate or unsettle marine fishing commons. We identify patterns of selective seafood consumption and dependence on niche markets that are translated across seafood supply chains and disrupt initiatives by fishers to sustainably manage local fisheries. We then discuss efforts to increase consumer awareness and recommend building community-supported fisheries through initiatives like InSeason Fish. In conclusion, we argue that discourse in fisheries sustainability should be theoretically recast through a ‘seafood commons’ that integrates practices of diverse resource users.
Alternative food networks (AFNs) for seafood employ different approaches along their diverse value chains, yet typically share five common attributes – supporting small-scale and place-based fishing operations through the provision of traceable, sustainable, and high-quality seafood products to customers. While a range of benefits from AFNs have been described, the potential for broad impacts of seafood AFNs remains largely unknown due to a range of constraints, including a lack of understanding of consumer preferences related to different seafood attributes, including those central to AFNs. This paper utilizes an online survey of consumers in Canada (n = 2006) to assess the potential demand for products supplied through seafood AFNs. Results indicate both barriers and opportunities for growing seafood AFNs. While respondents’ top three consumed seafood species (salmon, tuna, and shrimp) aligned with North American consumption patterns, a willingness to substitute between species was also indicated, which could present market opportunities for seafood AFNs offering a variety of product options based on local seasonality and abundance. Respondents prioritized product quality attributes situated at the consumption end of the value chain (e.g., taste, appearance, freshness, affordability, health benefits, and seafood type) over harvesting-related features (e.g., sustainability, production method, and fair compensation to harvesters). In addition, despite some degree of willingness to pay (WTP) – especially for high quality seafood – respondents were not willing to pay large price premiums for other features emphasized by seafood AFNs. Finally, different consumer segments interact differently with seafood AFNs’ five key features – for example, higher WTP was evidenced amongst younger consumers. Overall, the paper suggests that seafood AFNs should consider emphasizing their high-quality product offerings, pricing their products competitively, and targeting specific consumer segments when looking to expand into new markets.
Seafood is expected to become increasingly important in future food systems and healthy diets. This transition will require the seafood sector to adapt business practices to respond to environmental and social challenges while increasing resilience. Here, we develop the circular economy-resilience framework for business models (CERF-BM) and, through exploring the current literature, apply this framework to business models in the seafood sector. We find that the majority of business models incorporate elements of circular economy and resilience in a limited way. The reviewed business models often fail to consider other supply chain actors and, instead, focus on the business itself and its customers. The CERF-BM helps to elucidate this disconnect through assessing business models against company-level actions towards circularity in combination with systems-level resilience mechanisms. To reap the synergies between the circular economy and resilience mechanisms, seafood businesses could extract more value from organic waste and dematerialize their business models.
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration professes support for ecosystembased fisheries management, as mandated by Congress in the Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and as endorsed by the Obama Administration's national ocean policy. Nonetheless, driving agency policies, including catch shares and fishing quotas, focus principally on individual species, diverting attention from ecosystem considerations such as habitat, migratory patterns, trophic relationships, fishing gear, and firmlevel decision making. Environmental non-governmental organization (ENGO) agendas manifest similar inconsistencies. A case study of Maine's groundfishery demonstrates implications of this policy conflict at the local level. There, multigenerational fishing villages have historically pursued diversified and adaptive livelihood strategies, supported by local ecological knowledge. This tradition is increasingly eroded by regulatory constraints, including catch shares. Field observation, interviews, survey data, and archival review reveal that industry-supported, ecosystem-focused proposals have been rejected by the New England Fishery Management Council, despite the apparent failure of single-species approaches to sustain fish populations, fished ecosystems, and fishing-dependent communities. The creation of groundfishery catch share sectors is likely to perpetuate industry consolidation and political entrenchment under more mobile capital, following precedent set by days-at-sea, and making area protections and gear restrictions less likely. Pending marine spatial planning efforts could enhance social-ecological resilience by creating new opportunities for transdisciplinary decision support, and broader public participation and accountability.
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Legislation has specifically directed fisheries managers to provide for sustained participation of fishing communities and to minimize adverse impacts on the communities. However, a dearth of long-term systematic studies of fisheries-dependent communities has limited the extent to which these directives have been followed. This report takes several approaches to identifying New England's fishing communities and ranking their dependency. One approach is based on a regional consideration of fisheries- related employment compared to alternative employment. Another approach focuses on fishing structure complexity and degrees of individual communities' gentrification, and finally, the third approach offers community profiles that detail individual ports' characteristics with some attention to stakeholders' views on their community, way of life, institutions, and fisheries management.
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This article reviews recent research into alternative systems of food provision. It considers, first, what the concept of`alternativeness' might mean, based on recent discussions in economic geography. Informed by this, it discusses food relocalization and the turn to `quality' food production, arguing that both are `weaker' alternative systems of food provision because of their emphasis on food. It then examines some `stronger' alternative systems of food provision, which emphasize the networks through which food passes. Lastly, the paper reflects on the concept of alternativeness in the context of food supply chains, and suggests some possible directions for future research.
Based on long-term research on community-based resource management, and using small-scale fisheries as an example, alternatives to conventional management may be characterized by: a shift in philosophy to embrace uncertainty and complexity; an appreciation of fisheries as social-ecological systems and more broadly as complex adaptive systems; an expansion of scope of management information to include fishers' knowledge; formulation of management objectives that incorporate livelihood issues; and development of participatory management with community-based institutions and cross-scale governance. Such alternative management is adaptive as well as participatory in nature, as it engages the knowledge of resource users, their adaptive learning, and their institutions for self-governance. It is human-oriented but uses an ecosystem approach, effectively linking social systems with natural systems. Such management breaks out of the old tradition of management-as-control. It effectively redefines resource to mean, not commodity, but elements of an ecosystem that supports essential processes as well as human needs. It also redefines management to refer to governance, learning and adaptive management, oriented to maintaining the productive capacity and resilience of the linked social-ecological system.
The dominant discourse of fisheries science and management, bioeconomics, places the behavior of individual fishermen operating on an open-access commons at the center of its understanding of fisheries resources and the fishing industry. Within this discourse, fishermen are the sole actors and the fishery is the fixed stage for an inevitable ‘tragedy of the commons.’ Starting from these particular assumptions of both subject and space, bioeconomics proposes solutions to fisheries crisis that differ sharply from fishers’ perceptions of the resource and their desires for management. These divergent understandings of both the natural and social environments are reflected in the maps produced by fisheries scientists/managers and those produced by fishers themselves. Remapping fisheries in terms of fishers’ perceptions and scales of operation reveals diverse natural landscapes and communities in which the dominant discourse charted only quantities of fish and individual fishermen. The landscape of fishing communities, once made visible, suggests an opportunity for forms of area-based management that might facilitate community development rather than just individual prosperity.
In 2006, land use planning emerged as a contested issue in the rural area known as ‘Down East’, Carteret County, in eastern North Carolina, USA. Down East is experiencing a transition from a commercial fishing to an amenity economy and concerns about related changes led to the formation of ‘Down East Tomorrow’ (DET), a grassroots group that proposed a one-year development moratorium in order to facilitate a community planning process. In this paper, we use political ecology to examine the fate of the moratorium as reflected in the public written record, primarily minutes of meetings of the Carteret County Board of Commissioners. We illustrate how issues of community, science, and governance were linked to an increasing focus on coastal water quality in the debate, and argue that this focus facilitated a switch by the Board from considering a development moratorium to adopting a conservation ordinance, one that fell short of addressing DET’s concerns. This outcome illustrates the power of formal political institutions in ’First World’ environmental conflicts and the difficulties of reconciling competing values associated with land use in areas of transition, especially where historical resistance to planning has been the norm.
Bycatch reduction technology (BRT) modifies fishing gear to increase selectivity and avoid capture of non-target species, or to facilitate their non-lethal release. As a solution to fisheries-related mortality of non-target species, BRT is an attractive option; effectively implemented, BRT presents a technical 'fix' that can reduce pressure for politically contentious and economically detrimental interventions, such as fisheries closures. While a number of factors might contribute to effective implementation, our review of BRT literature finds that research has focused on technical design and experimental performance of individual technologies. In contrast, and with a few notable exceptions, research on the human and institutional context of BRT, and more specifically on how fishers respond to BRT, is limited. This is not to say that fisher attitudes are ignored or overlooked, but that incentives for fisher uptake of BRT are usually assumed rather than assessed or demonstrated. Three assumptions about fisher incentives dominate: (1) economic incentives will generate acceptance of BRT; (2) enforcement will generate compliance with BRT; and (3) 'participation' by fishers will increase acceptance and compliance, and overall support for BRT. In this paper, we explore evidence for and against these assumptions and situate our analysis in the wider social science literature on fisheries. Our goal is to highlight the need and suggest focal areas for further research.
A broad-based public consensus has emerged that bycatch should be minimized to levels approaching insignificance. This view, as reflected in U.S. and worldwide legislation and agreements, demonstrates the widely held belief that discarded portions of fishery catches (including economic resources, protected species, and unobserved mortalities of animals not caught) represent an unacceptable waste of natural resources. Bycatches in their various forms can have significant consequences for populations, food webs, and ecosystems. The economic effects of bycatches can influence not only the levels of yields to individual fisheries, but also may have major effects on allocations among competing fisheries. The lack of comprehensive monitoring programs in most areas to assess bycatches and integrate them into population and multispecies models seriously impedes a full understanding of bycatch consequences and the efficacy of measures for their amelioration. Nevertheless, where evidence for significant bycatches exists, a risk-averse and perhaps adaptive management philosophy is clearly warranted. Establishing the benefits and costs associated with bycatch management is a priority as managers attempt to define the practicality of bycatches approaching zero given the institutional, scientific, and industry resources necessary to accomplish the job.