Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities
Ethical seafood? - Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Crossroads (ESea)

ESea - Objectives and intended input

The objectives of the ESea-project are described here.

Stockfish hanging from lines
Matthias Kaiser

Main content

The overall objective of the ESea-project is a scholarly contribution to answering the following question:

  • To what extent and under which conditions can the production, trade and consumption of seafood be regarded as ethical?

In order to approach this objective, a number of sub-objectives have to be pursued. We shall here only list the main sub-objectives (though they in turn may contain several partial objectives):

  1. Given the current tools and indicators for assessing sustainability, what is the sustainability status of major species and value-chains from fisheries and aquaculture?
  2. While production, trade and consumption patterns vary significantly across countries and cultures, are there any approaches to governance along the value-chain, which can serve as best-practice models?
  3. While market- and consumer-realities as well as preferences vary significantly across countries and culture, are there any trends towards larger niche markets or even more principled attitudes for ethical consumption?
  4. What is the function and (documented) effect of ethical guidelines, labelling and certification schemes or other soft-law instruments in the seafood market?
  5. Given that ethical values and ethical principles tend to vary at least to a certain extent within different cultures, what is the opportunity space for ethical global governance in fisheries and aquaculture?
  6. Are there insights in theoretical and practical ethics / philosophy (e.g. relating to ethical values, principles and norms), and insights from the STS field, including public understanding of science and post-normal science, which may be instrumental in shaping public attitudes?
  7. Given the limit of global fishery productions and the increased growth of the aquaculture sector, are there realistic and sustainable models of the interaction between the two sectors?
  8. Given the power differentials along the value-chains both in fisheries and aquaculture, who are the most promising drivers towards ethical seafood?

The ESea-project will address these objectives in different stages and through different means and research efforts. The results of the work shall be the basis for a number of varied outputs, addressing different questions and being directed at different audiences. We shall list the main intended outcomes of the project:

  1. The book: ESea will culminate in a book publication in English with a recognized international publishing company. The book will address all objectives of the project. Preliminary negotiations with a major publisher are under way.
  2. The TV documentary: ESea, in collaboration with UniVisjon (UiB)  will produce  a 50-minute TV documentary in English, outlining issues of ethics and sustainability in global aquaculture trade, with a focus on Asian-European trade. The documentary shall raise issues in a balanced way, thus partially countering partisan productions from NGOs, and contribute to consumer awareness. The production is scheduled for spring 2014, and is already ¾ financed.
  3. International workshops and a final symposium: ESea shall conduct two scientific workshops, one on fisheries and one on aquaculture. The workshops shall be organized jointly with prospective partners from the Fisheries department of the University of Vancouver (Pitcher and Lam). Funding for the workshops shall be applied for through the North-America program of the Norwegian Research Council. The final international symposium needs to be funded at a later stage.
  4. Conference sessions: ESea shall stage special thematic sessions at the Conferences of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics (EurSafe) and the Asian-Pacific Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics (APSafe). The PI is President of the EurSafe and main European contact point for APSafe. Thematic sessions at relevant conferences of the World Aquaculture Society and the European Aquaculture Society shall be considered later.
  5. Scientific articles: ESea shall produce a number of scientific articles (3-8, depending on future funding), published in international peer-reviewed journals.  The journals shall have both a scientific and a social science / philosophy profile.
  6. Contributions in newspapers, magazines and other popular press: ESea shall contribute short pieces in the national and international press, related to seafood, aquaculture and fisheries. Articles will be written in Norwegian, English, German and Spanish.
  7. The Website: ESea shall have an operational website starting in 2014, and disseminating project activities and results. Part of this may include shorter video pieces for YouTube.
  8. Social media: ESea shall maintain an active address on Facebook and Twitter, addressing in particular a younger audience.