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Under the banner of sustainability: The politics and prose of an emerging US federal seafood certification

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... Likewise, a key motivation for US initiative is the argument that federally managed fisheries in the US are already sustainable because of the regulatory terms of and improvements made under the national Magnuson Stevenson Act. An eco-certification program is being explored in part as a way to verify, demonstrate and communicate this claim (Stoll and Johnson, 2015). Fisheries interest groups perceive growing demand for verification and communication of sustainability as a threat to government authority and market access, but also to territorially constituted industry identities and practices. ...
... The US federal government has officially declared that it will not participate directly or indirectly in private sector eco-certification and has instead set out to explore a federal eco-label based entirely on existing government management structures. State agencies see this as an opportunity to improve relations with industry without compromising management and conservation goals and bolster its role as an authoritative source of information about sustainability in fisheries (Stoll and Johnson, 2015). This effort will help industry comply with an executive order to encourage markets for territorially produced sustainable products and services that can supply federal contracts, which often require domestically produced products that comply with strict rules of origin (Stoll and Johnson, 2015). ...
... State agencies see this as an opportunity to improve relations with industry without compromising management and conservation goals and bolster its role as an authoritative source of information about sustainability in fisheries (Stoll and Johnson, 2015). This effort will help industry comply with an executive order to encourage markets for territorially produced sustainable products and services that can supply federal contracts, which often require domestically produced products that comply with strict rules of origin (Stoll and Johnson, 2015). ...
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Eco-certifications have become an important site of power struggles in commodity sectors such as forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, palm oil, and soy. In each, multiple eco-certification initiatives have been developed and resisted through interactions among non-governmental organizations, governments, and commercial actors. This paper contributes to understanding how power is embodied in certifications by exploring how territoriality manifests in the international struggle over defining what products are ‘sustainable’ and which producers will have access to markets that require ‘sustainable’ products. Focusing on the wild capture fisheries sector in which the non-governmental Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) administers the preeminent eco-certification initiative, we explore the emergence of new fisheries eco-certification initiatives in Japan, Iceland, Alaska, Canada, and the US that insist there is no transnational monopoly on judgments over fisheries sustainability. We argue that these new eco-certifications attempt to defend and embed territorial social and regulatory relations of production within the contested domain of transnational sustainability governance. The initiatives accommodate both the territorially embedded material interests, institutions, and discursive strategies of producers (and their state supporting agencies) and transnationally embedded governance norms for assessing and communicating sustainability. They also counter the globally applicable institutions of the MSC in favor of making space for state and non-state actors to contend with demands for sustainability in the global seafood market by combining place-specific attributes with transnational governance norms.
... At the same time, new certification programs are emerging to account for fishers' well-being and participation, since one of the critiques of certifications is that the human dimensions of fisheries have been largely absent from most efforts (Bailey, Bush, Miller, & Kochen, 2016). Some governments and industry groups are also starting to resist certifications because they feel like they are encroaching on their authority and autonomy (Stoll & Johnson 2015). Ironically, instead of rejecting certifications outright, these entities are considering or have started their own certifications (e.g., Alaska Seafood Marketing Initiative). ...
... Certifications have long been viewed as a type of nonstate, market-driven governance (Cashore, 2002), whereby non-state actors use them to motivate sustainable business practices through economic incentives (Jacquet et al., 2009;Wessell et al., 1999). Because they have traditionally existed outside public regulatory and management frameworks, but are designed to alter behavior, they can shift the balance of authority away from public management bodies (Foley, 2017;Gutiérrez & Morgan 2017;Stoll & Johnson 2015). Yet, perhaps in response to this perceived loss of authority, government authorities are increasingly integrating certifications into their governance process (Foley, 2017). ...
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Seafood certifications are a prominent tool being used to encourage sustainability in marine fisheries worldwide. However, questions about their efficacy remain the subject of ongoing debate. A main criticism is that they are not well suited for small‐scale fisheries or those in developing nations. This represents a dilemma because a significant share of global fishing activity occurs in these sectors. To overcome this shortcoming and others, a range of “fixes” have been implemented, including reduced payment structures, development of fisheries improvement projects, and head‐start programs that prepare fisheries for certification. These adaptations have not fully solved incompatibilities, instead creating new challenges that have necessitated additional fixes. We argue that this dynamic is emblematic of a common tendency in natural resource management where particular tools and strategies are emphasized over the conservation outcomes they seek to achieve. This can lead to the creation of “hammers” in management and conservation. We use seafood certifications as an illustrative case to highlight the importance of diverse approaches to sustainability that do not require certification. Focusing on alternative models that address sustainability problems at the local level and increase fishers’ adaptive capacity, social capital, and agency through “relational” supply chains may be a useful starting point.
... In particular, this diversity has become a source of concern for some CSF owners, who have advocated for the development of criteria for CSFs, to ensure that certain production standards are met and that the designation continues to hold value and meaning with and among consumers. This tension sets the stage for the eventual enclosure of the concepta path that is not uncommon in fisheries [22]. At stake is the trade-off between exclusion of certain models, approaches, or individuals, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the protection of certain underlying goals and values. ...
... A.E. Bolton et al. / Marine Policy 66 (2016)[21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29] ...
... Labels for seafood from certified sustainable aquaculture and wild fisheries aim to promote a sustainable, environmentally sound production, educate consumers and induce a change in purchase behavior (Jacquet & Pauly, 2007). Nowadays, sustainability labels are used widespread in the seafood industry (Jacquet & Pauly, 2007;Madin & Macreadie, 2015;Stoll & Johnson, 2015). Starting with the 'dolphin safe' logo on tuna cans in the 1990s, the development of labels for alternatively caught marine fish proliferated. ...
... via QR codes on product packages. Claims and labels are important to signalize sustainable quality of aquaculture production (Stoll & Johnson, 2015). In the qualitative part of the present study, claims and claimed characteristics were mostly criticized for being imprecise. ...
Article
Fish from aquaculture is becoming more important for human consumption. Sustainable aquaculture procedures were developed as an alternative to overcome the negative environmental impacts of conventional aquaculture procedures and wild fisheries. The objective of this contribution is to determine what consumers expect from sustainable aquaculture and whether they prefer sustainable aquaculture products. A combination of qualitative research methods, with think aloud protocols and in-depth interviews, as well as quantitative methods, using choice experiments and face-to-face interviews, was applied. Data was collected in three different cities of Germany. Results revealed that sustainable aquaculture was associated with natural, traditional, local, and small scale production systems with high animal welfare standards. Overall, participants paid a lot of attention to the declaration of origin; in particular fish products from Germany and Denmark were preferred along with local products. Frequently used sustainability claims for aquaculture products were mostly criticized as being imprecise by the participants of the qualitative study; even though two claims tested in the choice experiments had a significant positive impact on the choice of purchase. Similarly, existing aquaculture-specific labels for certified sustainable aquaculture had an impact on the buying decision, but were not well recognized and even less trusted. Overall, consumers had a positive attitude towards sustainable aquaculture. However, communication measures and labelling schemes should be improved to increase consumer acceptance and make a decisive impact on consumers' buying behavior.
... The research was motivated by subscribers' concerns about the healthfulness of the seafood they were getting through the CSF. Much of this concern stemmed from the ubiquitous educational seafood cards that classify certain species as unsustainable or unhealthy because of pollutants (as described by Stoll and Johnson 2015). One of the species listed on several of these cards is blue crab, the largest and most economically important fishery in North Carolina. ...
Article
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Faced with strict regulations, rising operational costs, depleted stocks, and competition from less expensive foreign imports, many fishers are pursuing new ways to market and sell their catch. Direct marketing arrangements can increase the ex-vessel value of seafood and profitability of operations for fishers by circumventing dominant wholesale chains of custody and capturing the premium that customers are willing to pay for local seafood. Our analysis goes beyond a paradigm that understands direct marketing arrangements as solely economic tools to consider how these emerging business configurations create a set of conditions that can result in increased bonding and bridging capital among fishers by incentivizing cooperation, communication, and information production and organization. To build our case, we report on the economic value being generated for fishers in a cooperatively owned and operated direct marketing arrangement in eastern North Carolina. Over the course of 2 years, fishers participating in the Walking Fish community-supported fishery received 33% more revenue for their catch compared to the average monthly ex-vessel price of finfish and shellfish landed in the surrounding region, and an additional 14% to 18% more per dollar by way of year-end profit sharing. We argue that these economic benefits create an incentive to participate, resulting in cooperation among fishers and increased communication skills that foster bonding and bridging capital that put fishers in a position to identify and respond to challenges that threaten the social-ecological resilience of the systems within which they operate. We suggest that “institutional starters” like these can play a critical role in increasing the resilience of social-ecological systems, including fisheries.
... As more third party certification schemes have entered the marketplace, ENGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Environmental Law Institute, have conducted benchmarking exercises or legal reviews to evaluate the rigor of various eco-label schemes (Environmental Law Institute, 2012; James Sullivan Consulting, 2012). The fishing industry has also been critical of certification schemes given they often bear the cost of certification without a commensurate level of benefits experienced by parties such as retailers (MAFAC, 2013;Stoll and Johnson, 2015). The growing number of certification schemes and the costs associated with acquiring multiple certifications that different retailers may require, has exacerbated the fishing industry's concern. ...
Article
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Over the last decade, a diverse coalition of actors has come together to develop and promote sustainability initiatives ranging from seafood eco-labels, seafood guides, traceability schemes, and sourcing policies in Western seafood supply chains. Based on a literature review, we trace the development of the Sustainable Seafood Movement, which has been working to reform sustainability practices in the seafood supply chain. Focusing on capture fisheries in the US and in the UK, we explore the roles of key actors and analyze the dynamics within and between actor groups through a cultural model derived from semi-structured interviews. We argue that the Sustainable Seafood Movement is different from previous social movements in that, in addition to actors advocating for government reform, it has motivated supply chain actors to participate in non-state market driven governance regimes. The movement and its actors have leveraged their legitimacy and authority garnered within the supply chain to increase their legitimacy and authority in public governance processes. As the movement continues to evolve, it will likely need to address several emerging issues to maintain its position of legitimacy and authority in both the supply chain and public governance processes.
... One possible form of incentive might be premium pricing for crops that can be certified to have been prepared under agricultural best practices, such as 'safe vegetables' in Vietnam (Van Hoi et al. 2009). While certification schemes for foods have succeeded in many parts of the world (e.g., Gómez Tovar et al. 2005;Stoll and Johnson 2015), they depend upon monitoring and transparency that is not reproducible in the street vendor and local market environment of Vietnam (Van Hoi et al. 2009) or Cambodia. Drinking water suppliers might in principle have an interest in reducing pesticide contamination of surface waters running off agricultural landscapes, but in practice, pesticide levels measured recently in Cambodia are not close to levels of concern (Feldman et al. 2007). ...
Article
In this study, we focus on water quality as a vehicle to illustrate the role that the water, energy, and food (WEF) Nexus perspective may have in promoting ecosystem services in agriculture. The mediation of water quality by terrestrial systems is a key ecosystem service for a range of actors (municipalities, fishers, industries, and energy providers) and is reshaped radically by agricultural activity. To address these impacts, many programs exist to promote improved land-use practices in agriculture; however, where these practices incur a cost or other burden to the farmer, adoption can be low unless some form of incentive is provided (as in a payment for ecosystem services (PES) program). Provision of such incentives can be a challenge to sustain in the long term, if there is not a clear beneficiary or other actor willing to provide them. Successfully closing the loop between impacts and incentives often requires identifying a measurable and valuable service with a clear central beneficiary that is impacted by the summative effects of the diffuse agricultural practices across the landscape. Drawing on cases from our own research, we demonstrate how the WEF Nexus perspective—by integrating non-point-source agricultural problems under well-defined energy issues—can highlight central beneficiaries of improved agricultural practice, where none may have existed otherwise.
... The prevalence of certification schemes has grown over the last ten years with numerous ecolabels now in the marketplace (Parkes et al., 2010;Washington and Ababouch, 2011;Ward and Phillips, 2013). Governments have adopted various approaches to deal with this trend including; considering it an industry issue (Washington and Ababouch, 2011), providing funds to assist with the costs of achieving certification (e.g., Norway: Gulbrandsen, 2014;Kvalvik et al., 2014;New Zealand: Washington and Ababouch, 2011;Foley, 2013) or supporting the establishment of national or regional certification schemes (e.g., France: Washington and Ababouch, 2011;Iceland: Foley, 2013;Kvalvik et al., 2014;USA: Washington and Ababouch, 2011;Stoll and Johnson, 2015). ...
Article
In 2012, the Western Australian (WA) State Government initiated a four year project to provide the state’s fisheries the opportunity to obtain third party certification. The Government was seeking a range of benefits from this initiative such as scientifically robust, independent assessments of fisheries sustainability and management and improved community support for commercial fishing. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) was selected as the preferred certification scheme due to its rigorous approach and strong market acceptance. The project commenced with the pre-assessment of the state’s commercial fisheries (∼50 fisheries) using an ecosystem based fishery management-bioregional approach to encompass the wide variety of species, gears and locations around the state. Given the number and variety of fisheries examined the pre-assessments were conducted using a bioregional approach, with multiple fisheries assessed in each of five marine bioregions. Applying the MSC standard to such a diverse range of fisheries, many of which are small scale, data limited, multispecies or multisector, presented several challenges. However, the bioregional approach enabled the identification of common issues and focussed attention on possible refinements to the MSC scoring guidelines for these types of fisheries. Despite the challenges, this initiative has already generated improvements to governance, consultation and assessment processes. It is anticipated that as the number of certified fisheries in WA increases, public confidence and the social licence for commercial fishing operations will be enhanced, enabling their ongoing access to these public resources.
... While modern fisheries struggle with these environmental and economic problems, consumers seeking to make informed seafood purchases face barriers such as seafood mislabeling [10,11], long supply chains with little transparency [12], and conflicting definitions of 'sustainable seafood' [13][14][15]. Cumulatively, these issues have led to a push for smaller, direct market commercial fisheries that operate on local scales [2,16]. ...
Article
Community supported fishery (CSF) programs are emerging as appealing alternatives to large-scale industrial fisheries for some seafood consumers and commercial fishers. While CSFs provide many social, economic, and environmental benefits to their local communities, the associated financial costs can make it difficult for such programs to remain solvent. The goal of this research was to identify specific features that influence the financial performance of CSF programs. Using data collected online and from surveys of past and current North American CSFs, this research identified a combination of three key features associated with positive profit margins: engaging in social media, offering a retail option, and having a fisher as a founding member. The potential reasons behind the influence of these features on financial performance is explored, and recommendations for how they can be incorporated into CSF programs are presented. It is hoped that through integrating these features, prospective and currently operating CSFs could potentially improve their long-term financial performance, enabling them to focus on their non-financial goals and increase their overall economic viability.
... In this context, states have also facilitated the development of alternatives to the MSC within their jurisdictions. In the late 2000s, national and subnational governments supported the development of certification initiatives in Japan, Iceland and Alaska, while actors in Canada, the United States and Norway engaged in work to explore the establishment of certification programs (Foley and Hébert 2013, Kvalvik et al. 2014, Stoll and Johnson 2015, Foley and Havice 2016. In the following, I explain resistance to MSC in Iceland and then explain the emergence of the IRF program as the integration of social relations of production, state-producer collaboration, and globalized governance and trade norms. ...
Article
To contribute to the literature on transnational sustainability governance hybrids, a new fisheries certification program in Iceland that was originally developed as an alternative to the non-governmental Marine Stewardship Council is examined. While this new program appears on the surface to constitute a purely nationalistic reaction against external non-state authority, the new governance institution is also non-governmental and incorporates international norms and institutions. To explain this new governance hybrid, Robert Cox’s International Political Economy approach to production and power is engaged. This approach theorizes the co-constitution of the social forces of production, state–society complexes and global governance. It is argued that the Icelandic case is not entirely localized or unique; it is part of a broader movement in which social forces of production respond to new market-oriented transnational sustainability governance institutions by developing territorially embedded but transnationally legitimate alternatives.
... In many countries, growing concerns about sustainable food production as well as notions of social justice have led consumers to put a premium on products that are generated through sustainable and non-exploitative practices [39]. Despite economic globalization, however, the world remains a culturally diverse place shaped by diverse priorities that do not change overnight [18]. ...
Article
Building on the inputs by a range of experts who participated in the February 2017 international symposium on " Designing the Future for Fisheries Certification Schemes " at the University of Tokyo, this manuscript traces the origins of fisheries certification schemes, relevant developments, and remaining challenges from an Asian perspective. Over the past 20 years, seafood certification has emerged as a powerful tool for meeting growing demands for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture products. Despite broad consensus among countries regarding what constitute responsible fishing practices, the fisheries certification landscape remains uneven. A plethora of certification schemes has generated confusion among consumers and retailers, and capital-intensive certification schemes may be out-of-reach or impractical for some small-scale fisheries, particularly within the developing world. A recent initiative by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) is aiming to address the diversity within the certification landscape by creating a tool to benchmark certification schemes that are in line with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other relevant agreed FAO guidelines on fisheries, ecola-belling and aquaculture. Countries in Asia are among the world's top consumers and exporters of seafood, yet have faced some particular challenges with regard to seafood certification, underscoring the need for certification schemes that account for regional and local conditions and management practices, particularly with regard to small-scale fisheries.
... In Europe and North America where the sustainable seafood movement is now coherent enough to constitute an influence on market behaviours, it has emerged organically over two decades with changing dynamics between the different groups involved, not always in synergy. Shifting power dynamics between groups has been a major factor shaping the sustainable seafood movement [12,120,121]. In other large markets in China and Japan where the sustainable seafood movement has not to date been a significant influence, it may yet become significant, but the precise composition of the concert will be path dependent, reflecting underlying differences in the social and market contexts, such as the pre-eminence of food safety concerns in both countries and the well-established cachet of food localism in Japan. ...
Article
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Private standards, including ecolabels, have been posed as a governance solution for the global fisheries crisis. The conventional logic is that ecolabels meet consumer demand for certified "sustainable" seafood, with "good" players rewarded with price premiums or market share and "bad" players punished by reduced sales. Empirically, however, in the markets where ecolabeling has taken hold, retailers and brands-rather than consumers-are demanding sustainable sourcing, to build and protect their reputation. The aim of this paper is to devise a more accurate logic for understanding the sustainable seafood movement, using a qualitative literature review and reflection on our previous research. We find that replacing the consumer-driven logic with a retailer/brand-driven logic does not go far enough in making research into the sustainable seafood movement more useful. Governance is a "concert" and cannot be adequately explained through individual actor groups. We propose a new logic going beyond consumer- or retailer/brand-driven models, and call on researchers to build on the partial pictures given by studies on prices and willingness-to-pay, investigating more fully the motivations of actors in the sustainable seafood movement, and considering audience beyond the direct consumption of the product in question.
... Across the United States, growing demand for local and sustainable food supports an explosion of farmers markets and marketing methods that emphasize ethics in food production (Hinrichs and Lyson 2009;Pojman, Pojman, and McShane 2016). There has been considerable attention by scholars to the topic of sustainability issues in seafood 1 (Stoll, Dubik, and Campbell 2015;Bolton et al. 2016;Stoll and Johnson 2015;McClenachan et al. 2014), including food system research that examines unethical practices in seafood production (e.g., Constance and Kirk Jentoft 2011;Marschke and Vandergeest 2016;Chantavanich, Laodumrongchai, and Stringer 2016). However, consumers appear to have difficulty understanding the origins of the seafood products they encounter in the market, and the production issues attached to the seafood they buy. ...
Article
Growing demand for local, sustainable food is supporting an explosion of direct marketing throughout the United States (U.S.). Despite recent scholarship on ethics and sustainability issues in seafood, these are less commonly addressed among the consumers participating in the local food movement. This paper examines the interplay between demand for local and ethically sourced foods and the implications for seafood sustainability in the U.S. south, asking: what are Georgia consumer perceptions of local and sustainable foods, to what extent do they consider seafood in the local food movement, and how can Georgia fisheries fit within these understandings and preferences? We refashion a values‐based supply chain model to encapsulate consumers’ preferences, and propose a three‐tiered, process based model of involvement for seafood consumers. In sum, we argue that sustainable seafood deserves a more prominent place in the local food movement.
... The state remains the key regulator for fisheries and needs to bridge the gap between a faceless regulator, and a consumer-facing entity. For example, the United States has been discussing a federal seafood certification based on principles of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (Stoll & Johnson, 2015). ...
Article
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Approaches to counter the overfishing and aquaculture production crisis include those imposed by public governing bodies, as well as those implemented by businesses and non‐governmental organizations (NGOs). In the case of the latter, private actors govern fisheries consumption and production through corporate social responsibility (CSR). In this contribution, we focus on three key tools that businesses are increasingly turning towards in an effort to meet the one particular CSR goal of sustainable seafood sourcing. In this context, the key tools of certifications, fisheries improvement projects (FIPs) and traceability are reviewed, and their potential as well as limits in contributing to continual improvement in pursuit of global seafood sustainability are analyzed. We argue that seafood CSR has created its own whimsical and fantastical world, a Seussian world, in which company image has become more important than sustainability performance. We posit four important barriers that must be overcome to bring seafood CSR back to reality. Specifically, we suggest moving away from the business case for CSR, reducing accessibility barriers for small‐scale and developing world fisheries, reconciling different labels and sustainability concepts, and better recognizing the imperative role of the state in governing fisheries and seafood.
... Alternatively, governments may argue that any form of certification is redundant because of the legitimacy and credibility of their (improved) sovereign management systems. The US, for instance, has argued that the strength of the Magnuson and Stevens Act is sufficient rendering certification simply an extra, unnecessary cost 79,80 . Similar arguments have been put forward in Norway and Iceland 81,82 . ...
Article
The sustainable seafood movement is at a crossroads. Its core strategy, also known as a theory of change, is based on market-oriented initiatives such as third-party certification but does not motivate adequate levels of improved governance and environmental improvements needed in many fisheries, especially in developing countries. Price premiums for certified products are elusive, multiple forms of certification compete in a crowded marketplace and certifiers are increasingly asked to address social as well as ecological goals. This paper traces how the sustainable seafood movement has evolved over time to address new challenges while success remains limited. We conclude by exploring four alternative potential outcomes for the future theory of change, each with different contributions to creating a more sustainable global seafood supply. The decades-long movement for sustainable seafood is centred on a ‘theory of change’ that emphasizes third-party initiatives for certification and consumer signalling. The evolution of that theory, and its potential futures, shows the challenges of management and co-ordination with multiple actors.
... The most studied CSF initiative is 'Walking Fish', an initiative from Beaufort, in North Carolina (USA), implemented in 2009 (Bolton et al. 2016;Brinson et al. 2011;Campbell et al. 2014;Stoll and Johnson 2015). Examples of other CSFs in the literature include 'Off the Hook' (Canada), 'Port Clyde Fresh Catch' (USA), 'Community Fish' (USA) (Brinson et al. 2011) (Table 8.1). ...
Chapter
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Several factors affect the ability of small-scale fishers to secure their livelihoods. Particularly relevant is their capacity to sell their fish, receive remunerative prices, and add value to their catches. In general, catches from small-scale fisheries have a superior quality and freshness, but this does not always lead to better prices or higher demand. Too often, local fishing catches are not sufficiently differentiated in the market from those coming from imports, larger scale fisheries, aquaculture, or even from furtive fishing. This chapter focuses on strategies adopted by small-scale fishers to add value and improve the market penetration of their catches. These strategies must embrace a wide range of actors and issues. There is also a need to know whether the fishing resources available can cope with demand, or in what ways consumers’ preferences could be refocused on other marine species to make more efficient use of potential resources. This requires the contribution of a variety of scientists, ranging from the fields of natural sciences to economics and marketing, with social sciences also playing an important role. Consequently, transdisciplinary research in this area is needed in order to optimize the income of fishing families and make it easier for consumers to access locally caught fish. This chapter will also provide a practical example to illustrate transdisciplinary research to improve small-scale fisheries capacity for innovation in marketing being developed in Tenerife (Spain). These strategies involve collaborations between scientists, local government, and the industry to produce an innovative small-scale fisheries branding initiative.
Chapter
Fish, the largest source of animal protein in the world, has long been one of the most important foods in the history of humanity. Its contribution to nutritional, economic and social well-being has been a pivotal factor in facilitating population growth over many hundreds of millennia. With population growth predicted to exceed 9 billion by 2050, its continued availability will be essential in taking humanity forwards. As far as sustainable development is concerned, a significant number of studies have suggested the more recent history of fishing is one of over-exploitation, pollution, nutritional inconsistency, depletion, local extinctions and imminent crisis. The incentive-driven free market for fish has encouraged efficiency and industrial scale production. Calculations of fish stocks are mostly based on United Nations data, but the accuracy of this data has also been called into question. As international and national governance failed to deliver effective fisheries management, these have largely been replaced by a proliferation of market-based certification schemes. This paper explores the more recent evidence in order to understand the key challenges of producing fish sustainably. The purpose is to understand how sustainable fish consumption is today. Specifically, it will attempt to investigate the scope and size of the challenges facing the sector, and critically appraise the management strategies currently in place to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goal is met. It will then assess the effectiveness of those organisations charged with governing the sector and attempt to ascertain the extent to which the consumer is aware of the challenges and how this influences seafood purchasing behaviour.
Article
Consistent with preferences for other food products, consumers increasingly care about a range of search and credence seafood characteristics such as: environmental effects and product form. This study utilized a dataset obtained from an online survey, and a Multivariate Ordered Probit formulation to examine the impact of: demographic characteristics, lifestyle preferences, and seafood consumption frequency on preferences for selected seafood attributes. The findings indicate that the factors influencing consumer preferences differ across the attributes examined. Although some demographic variables have a statistically significant effect on consumers’ preferences for seafood attributes other than price, their predictive power was limited regarding preferences for wild-caught, fresh seafood and the impact of sustainability on purchasing decisions. Furthermore, consumers who utilize direct marketing outlets have stronger preferences towards fresh and wild-caught seafood products.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore consumer knowledge of seafood sustainability and how that knowledge influences the purchase of seafood products. Design/methodology/approach Using an online survey ( n =1,319), the authors investigated Australian consumer knowledge of seafood sustainability and the drivers of purchase choice. Objective knowledge categories were developed through the qualitative analysis of unprompted, open-ended responses and compared with other surveyed measures of objective knowledge. The relationship between these knowledge categories and the importance of sustainability in the purchase decision was tested. Findings A significant group of consumers either had no knowledge of seafood sustainability (17.8 per cent) or gave an incorrect response (15.5 per cent), while 25.1 per cent demonstrated simple and 41.6 per cent complex knowledge. Further, the knowledge was positively related to importance of sustainability when making purchase decisions. Sustainability moved from the lowest ranked attribute for the no knowledge group to the highest ranked attribute for the complex knowledge group. Research limitations/implications The results show that the consumer knowledge about sustainable seafood cannot be assumed and that the level of sustainability knowledge influences the importance of sustainability in the purchase decision. Practical implications The results suggest that information-based strategies based on a universally shared definition of sustainability in the seafood industry designed to drive sustainable consumer behaviour for seafood must take the account of consumer knowledge. Originality/value This paper identifies and provides a classification framework for levels of consumer knowledge about sustainable seafood and demonstrates a positive relationship between knowledge and the importance of sustainability in consumer decisions with regard to purchasing seafood.
Article
In 2020, the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food launched a new state-led ecolabelling scheme for fish originating from small-scale, ‘low-environmental-impact’ fisheries; “NaturSkånsom”. The label was introduced to a domestic market where the vast majority of the fish landed by Danish vessels was already certified by the global leader in certification of (wild caught) fish products, Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). MSC’s high market penetration created a situation where especially small-scale fishers felt that MSC certification had developed into a market norm without providing fishers the benefits of demonstrating extraordinarily sustainable practices and thereby gain competitive advantages. Rather, MSC’s market penetration was perceived as undermining efforts to brand and market fish originating from small-scale fisheries as particularly sustainable. This article explores the processes that led up to the NaturSkånsom labeling scheme by applying a ‘power in planning and policy framework’ as an analytical lens. Through the NaturSkånsom process, the article investigates what happens when an ecolabel becomes a market norm, how small-scale fisheries actors who feel disadvantaged by such a development and environmental organizations form alliances, mobilize support and multiple resources to strengthen their positions in the political settings. The examination of this case highlights how stakeholders traditionally thought of as less resourceful can gain political influence. The article offers a glimpse into a possible, emerging future where those perceiving themselves as the most sustainable producers may increasingly view large and dominating ecolabels simultaneously as obstacles and forces for positive change.
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Rothschild, B. J., Keiley, E. F., and Jiao, Y. 2014. Failure to eliminate overfishing and attain optimum yield in the New England groundfish fishery. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 71: 226–233. Under US law, fishery management is required to eliminate overfishing and attain optimum yield (OY). In New England, many groundfish stocks continue to be overfished, and the fishery continues to harvest less than OY. The reasons for the shortfalls are rooted in the socio-economic structure of the management regime, and technical and scientific issues that constrain the management system. The most recent change in the management regime (days-at-sea to catch shares) and performance relative to OY and the prevention of overfishing are analyzed along with metrics used to gauge performance. The commonly used age-based production model gives a problematic perception of stock abundance. Structural issues that seem to impair achieving OY are the adherence to the single-species interpretation of multiple-species yield and the use of the Fx% proxy. Simpler approaches to stock assessment are discussed. A management system that creates feasible goals and uses improved and simpler metrics to measure performance is needed to facilitate attainment of management goals.
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We examine new dynamics of privatization and collective action in common pool resource situations facilitated by the nonstate multistakeholder institutions of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the global leader in sustainability certification for wild caught seafood. Through a review of the literature and two case studies of fishing cooperatives in Baja California Sur, Mexico and on Fogo Island in the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), we advance two interrelated arguments. First, certification and eco-labeling institutions privatize fisheries governance in largely unexamined ways through the injection of new forms of exclusive rights or privileges into common pool resource situations already complicated by access and property privileges, creating conditions for confusion and conflict as well as cooperation. Second, the MSC whole stock definition of sustainability places greater demands on certification clients for engaging in collective action by encouraging coordination over all social extractions from targeted fish stocks. Although rules encouraging collective action in common pool situations militate against the narrow private capture of certificate and eco-label rights, they also undermine the ability of small-scale and community-based fisheries that are embedded in larger unhealthy fishery contexts to acquire the right to the MSC stamp of sustainability. We conclude that MSC certification and eco-labeling create new institutions of private property rights and collective action, which can result in exclusionary practices, inclusionary collective action, or both. Much will depend on the specific common pool context and history of the fishery.
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Longhurst examines the proposition, central to fisheries science, that a fishery creates its own natural resource by the compensatory growth it induces in the fish, and that this is sustainable. His novel analysis of the reproductive ecology of bony fish of cooler seas offers some support for this, but a review of fisheries past and present confirms that sustainability is rarely achieved. The relatively open structure and strong variability of marine ecosystems is discussed in relation to the reliability of resources used by the industrial-level fishing that became globalised during the 20th century. This was associated with an extraordinary lack of regulation in most seas, and a widespread avoidance of regulation where it did exist. Sustained fisheries can only be expected where social conditions permit strict regulation and where politicians have no personal interest in outcomes despite current enthusiasm for ecosystem-based approaches or for transferable property rights.
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The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has continued to strengthen its position in the market based on its credibility as a transparent, accountable and science-based third party certification scheme. However, the consolidation of MSC's credibility risks being undermined by the poor representation of developing world fisheries and concerns that the scheme provides little incentive for continual improvement for fisheries once certified. This paper argues that the challenge of maintaining credibility while increasing access and fisheries improvement constitutes a 'devils triangle'. In the absence of a clear policy from MSC for balancing this triangle fisheries are taking their own actions to differentiate themselves both above (MSC-plus) and below (MSC-minus) the certification threshold. To avoid further undermining of the MSC the organisation should internalise such externally-led differentiation by moving towards an internally controlled tiered certification system based on its already existing metric-based principle indicator system. Doing so would communicate on equity and continual improvement both before and after certification, and create on-going incentives for fishers to enter into the MSC programme.
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As worldwide population continues to grow, so does demand for seafood by consumers. With this trend, interest in sustainably certified seafood is also increasing. The Maine lobster fishery is currently considering certification based on the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. Although certification is argued to provide a market-based incentive to improve sustainable fishing practices, it is a costly and time-consuming process, and often imposes additional requirements on fisheries in order to meet certification standards. To evaluate whether the costs of Maine lobster fishery certification are worth the presumed benefits, lobster industry members were interviewed to learn their opinions of MSC certification, seafood consumers were surveyed to understand their attitudes and purchasing preferences related to lobster, and lessons learned from other MSC-certified fisheries were compiled. MSC certification of the Maine lobster fishery could potentially provide benefits to the industry by differentiating Maine lobster and maintaining access to markets that are looking to exclusively source certified fish products. However, certification is unlikely to provide price premiums for the fishermen, and does not necessarily represent to consumers the most desirable aspects of Maine lobster. Certification programs may need to adapt to consumer preferences and market conditions if they are to continue to provide incentives for the sustainable management of fisheries.
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Ecolabelling is an increasingly important tool used in the promotion of sustainable forestry and fishery products around the world. Whether the consumer is actually paying a price premium for ecolabelled products is of fundamental importance as it indicates a return on the investment of sustainable practices, providing an incentive for producers to undertake such practices. This article seeks to address the question of whether or not an actual premium is being paid by consumers for ecolabelled seafood by conducting a hedonic analysis of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)‐certified frozen processed Alaska pollock products in the London metropolitan area in the UK market using scanner data. Regression results show a statistically significant premium of 14.2%. This implies the presence of market differentiation for sustainable seafood and the potential of the MSC’s fisheries certification programme to generate market incentives for sustainable fisheries practices.
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The sustainable seafood area has seen experiments with market-based approaches in the US and Europe since the mid-1990s. These include consumer campaigns and Marine Stewardship Council certification. Such consumption strategies have made much progress but need to focus more on how production and consumption intersect. Because producers, their impacts and implementation of sustainable fishing practices are currently unidentifiable, it is difficult to tell whether industry is changing. This article argues that seafood producers can be made more accountable for their production impacts through taking a production chain view, making producers more transparent and creating production chain pressures.
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To what extent can eco-labelling become a durable instrument for managing natural resources and the environment ? Having analysed the concept and the issues, this article will evaluate, using a case study, its appropriateness for the long-term management of a particular small Breton fishery.The analysis will focus particularly on the existence of the consumer willingness to pay a supplement for eco-labelled fish. From an econometric model, the author will clarify the factors which could explain to a significant degree, this predisposition to pay. This empirical study uses several surveys, some of which were carried out over the course of 2006 in Brittany and involved around 450 consumers.
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In recent years, transnational and domestic non-governmental organizations have created private standard setting bodies whose purpose is to recognize officially companies and landowners practicing ‘sustainable forest management’. Eschewing traditional state processes and state authority, these certification programs have turned to the market to create incentives and force compliance to their rules. This paper compares the emergence of this non-state market driven (NSMD) phenomenon in the forest sector in eight regions in North Am40erica and Europe. We specifically seek to understand the role of forest companies and landowners in granting competing forest certification programs ‘legitimacy’ to create the rules. We identify distinct legitimation dynamics in each of our cases, and then develop seven hypotheses to explain differences in support for forest certification.
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In this paper, we confront the theoretical motivations of the consumption of eco-friendly products and the factors influencing the European perceptions regarding the fact that “fish caught using an environmentally friendly technique may carry a special label”. We take advantage of the recent integration of non-economic elements in the microeconomic analysis of consumers' behavior in order to highlight the factors leading to their demand for green products. Thanks to an original European survey on seafood product carried out on more than 5000 consumers, we test the influence of intrinsic motivation, information, localization and socio-economic factors on the demand for an eco-label for fish.Our results show a significant connection between the desire for eco-labeling and seafood features, especially the freshness of the fish, the geographical origin of the fish and the wild vs farmed origin of the fish. Moreover, we prove the major role played by the fish price. We also demonstrate that the ecological issue regarding fisheries is highly connected to consumer information, intrinsic motivation and socio-economic status: the typical “green fish consumer” is a young woman, well educated, well informed on the state of marine resources and not very trusting of the regulation of the fisheries. Consumers who are aware of the importance of marine resource preservation have the same profile.
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The human appetite for seafood has intensified and so has overfishing and damage to marine ecosystems. Recently, the response to the fisheries crisis has included a considerable effort directed toward raising the seafood awareness of consumers in North America and Europe. The resulting campaigns aim to affect the seafood demand and to lead to a sustainable seafood supply. Though there are indicators of some regional successes, lack of support by the Asian market and the proliferation of self-serving seafood labels are but two of the many significant limitations of these campaigns. This contribution investigates the difficulties and successes of seafood awareness campaigns, as well as the need for indicators of campaign effectiveness.
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After centuries of optimism, science has become problematic and compromised. We can no longer assume that innovations are safe until proven dangerous. The 'technocratic' approach to science, with its reductionist methodology and its corporate control, is no longer appropriate. We need a 'precautionary' science that will be 'post-normal' in character. For this, we contrast 'applied science,' like the 'puzzle-solving' of Kuhn's 'normal science' and the 'professional consultancy' like the practice of the surgeon or engineer. Rather, we have a situation where 'facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent.' For high-quality decision-making, we need an 'extended peer community' who will bring their 'extended facts' to the dialogue. There are a number of initiatives that advance the post-normal programme, including the endeavours of Poul Harremoës and the conference on Uncertainty and Precaution in Environmental Management.
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There are two diverging views of the status and future of the world's fisheries. One group represented largely by academic marine ecologists sees almost universal failure of fisheries management and calls for the use of marine-protected areas as the central tool of a new approach to rebuilding the marine ecosystems of the world. The scientists working in fisheries agencies and many academic scientists see a more complex picture, with many failed fisheries but also numerous successes. This group argues that we need to apply the lessons from the successful fisheries to stop the decline and rebuild those fisheries threatened by excess fishing. These lessons are stopping the competitive race to fish by appropriate incentives for fishing fleets and good governance. The major tool of resetting incentives is granting various forms of dedicated access, including community-based fishing rights, allocation to cooperatives, and individual fishing quotas. Many of the failed fisheries of the world occur in jurisdictions where central governments are not functional, and local control of fisheries is an essential part of the solution.
Article
In recent years, International Political Economy literature on "politics beyond state" has emphasized the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in broader policy processes, both national and international. In addition to their impact on states, NGOs influence the policies of non-state actors such as firms via public and private politics. Dissatisfied with the progress firms have made in response to public regulation, NGOs have sponsored private authority regimes in several issue areas and pushed firms to participate in them. Across the world, the contest between NGOs and firms has provoked substantial behavioral and programmatic change--including widespread participation in these private authority regimes--among firms seeking to escape NGO pressures. Using firm-level data, this paper examines why direct targeting has not led firms in the U.S. forest products sector to participate in an NGO-sponsored private authority regime, the Forest Stewardship Council. This global regime has been adopted widely in Europe, but U.S.-based forestry firms have tended to favor a domestic industry-sponsored regime, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Our analysis suggests that the desire of firms to maintain control over their institutional environment in light of hostile relations with NGOs has led US-based firms to favor the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
Seafood certification programs: questions to ask and challenges to consider. Presented during Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee
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Connelly, J. 2012. Seafood certification programs: questions to ask and challenges to consider. Presented during Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. Silver Spring, MD.
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McDonald's first USA national restaurant chain to serve MSC certified sustainable seafood to all US locations Available at: 〈http://www.msc.org/newsroom/news/mcdonalds-usa-first-restaurant-chainto-serve-msc-certified-sustainable-fish-nationwide〉
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