Evolving Perspectives of Stewardship in the Seafood Industry

Blasiak, R. and Dauriach, A. and Jouffray, J.-B. and Folke, C. and Österblom, H. and Bebbington, J. and Bengtsson, F. and Causevic, A. and Geerts, B. and Grønbrekk, W. and Henriksson, P.J.G. and Käll, S. and Leadbitter, D. and McBain, D. and Crespo, G.O. and Packer, H. and Sakaguchi, I. and Schultz, L. and Selig, E.R. and Troell, M. and Villalón, J. and Wabnitz, C.C.C. and Wassénius, E. and Watson, R.A. and Yagi, N. and Crona, B. (2021) Evolving Perspectives of Stewardship in the Seafood Industry. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8. ISSN 2296-7745

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Humanity has never benefited more from the ocean as a source of food, livelihoods, and well-being, yet on a global scale this has been accompanied by trajectories of degradation and persistent inequity. Awareness of this has spurred policymakers to develop an expanding network of ocean governance instruments, catalyzed civil society pressure on the public and private sector, and motivated engagement by the general public as consumers and constituents. Among local communities, diverse examples of stewardship have rested on the foundation of care, knowledge and agency. But does an analog for stewardship exist in the context of globally active multinational corporations? Here, we consider the seafood industry and its efforts to navigate this new reality through private governance. We examine paradigmatic events in the history of the sustainable seafood movement, from seafood boycotts in the 1970s through to the emergence of certification measures, benchmarks, and diverse voluntary environmental programs. We note four dimensions of stewardship in which efforts by actors within the seafood industry have aligned with theoretical concepts of stewardship, which we describe as (1) moving beyond compliance, (2) taking a systems perspective, (3) living with uncertainty, and (4) understanding humans as embedded elements of the biosphere. In conclusion, we identify emerging stewardship challenges for the seafood industry and suggest the urgent need to embrace a broader notion of ocean stewardship that extends beyond seafood.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Frontiers in Marine Science
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22 Jul 2021 15:20
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 10:26