Exploring Representations of Consumers and Interactions amongst Governance Actors in the Sustainable Seafood Movement




Sulpizio, Isabella

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University of Guelph


This thesis explores the evolution and internal tensions of the ‘sustainable seafood movement’ in North America. Many large retailers and ENGOs advocate the purchase of certified seafood as an alternative to state-led management of wild-capture fisheries. Thus, market-based seafood governance is premised on the assumption that consumer demand for certified seafood products exists and/or will grow over time. However, as the sustainable seafood movement has evolved, economic research suggests that consumers have not responded with their wallets as quickly as anticipated. This research explores how seafood retailers and ENGOs interact and how they understand and publicly communicate the role(s) of the consumer in this movement. Findings show that there has been relatively little consistency in how the role of the consumer has been communicated. This work raises important challenges with the sustainable seafood movement and helps to animate analytical frameworks used to assess market-based governance systems.



environmental governance, governance partnerships, sustainable seafood, consumption, ethical consumption, market-based mechanisms