Kind of turquoise : Effects of seafood eco-certification and sustainable consumption
Abstract: Aquaculture and fisheries hold promise for supplying a growing world population with healthy food produced without undermining the earth’s carrying capacity. However, just as livestock production and agriculture, seafood production can have negative environmental impacts and if a continuous or even increased supply is to be guaranteed, the pressure on affected ecosystems needs to be limited. Due in part to a perceived failure of other governance mechanisms in improving the environmental performance of the sector, a large number of voluntary market based standards for farmed and wild caught seafood have been developed. Nonetheless, the knowledge base on the extent to which implementation leads to environmental improvements remains limited. Moreover, the role of consumers in driving demand for eco-labeled seafood is presently an under-researched area. This thesis aims at reducing this knowledge gap through an examination of the potential environmental effectiveness of aquaculture eco-certification and internal, psychological variables predicted to be of importance for sustainable seafood consumption. Put differently, what is the potential of eco-certification in greening the blue revolution and fuel ‘turquoise growth’, and how can consumer demand be spurred?In Paper I, the role of eco-certification in improving the growing aquaculture sector at large was explored. Results showed that environmental effects at global scale likely will be limited due to e.g. partial coverage of species groups and environmental impacts, and a lack of focus on Asian markets and consumers. In Paper II the environmental performance of eco-certified and non-certified mangrove-integrated shrimp farms in Vietnam was compared by using Life Cycle Assessment and put in relation to conventional, more intensive farms. While there was no substantial difference between certified and non-certified farms in terms of environmental impacts, emissions of greenhouse gasses were higher for mangrove-integrated than conventional farms due to mangrove land use change. The results from Paper III demonstrated that the body of literature investigating ecological effects of seafood eco-certification is limited. ‘Spatially explicit ecosystem service information’ (ES-information) on e.g. key ecosystem services and biodiversity in a given area is suggested to have potential to improve sustainability standards. Taking guidance from the pro-environmental behavior literature, consumers in Stockholm, Sweden were consulted on awareness of and attitudes towards eco-labeled seafood (Paper IV-V). Two variables, concern for environmental impacts and knowledge about seafood eco-labels were the best predictors for stated eco-labeled seafood purchasing. Moreover, there seemed to be a misalignment between consumers’ expectations on eco-labeled food in general and certification requirements for eco-labeled seafood.From this set of findings, a number of improvements of current seafood eco-certification are suggested. First, include an LCA-perspective in standards to a higher degree than presently done and provide readily available ES-information in the implementation and evaluation phase of certification. Second, introduce standardized mechanisms for capturing potential environmental improvements over time. And finally, stimulate demand by targeting Asian consumers and markets as well as strengthen consumer eco-label awareness and emotional involvement.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE DISSERTATION. (in PDF format)