A tidal wave of recent research emphasizes the potential of “farming the seas” to “feed the world”. We seek to complicate this simple but appealing narrative. We contend that contemporary narratives overstate marine finfish aquaculture’s potential to deliver food security and environmental sustainability. In doing so, they also obscure the very substantial contributions that freshwater aquaculture in the Global South already makes toward meeting these goals. Recent literature promoting mariculture aligns with the rubric of “blue growth” and associated efforts to enclose maritime space. We contend that this logic of privatization has potential to facilitate allocation of maritime space to extractive industries and conservation interests, to the detriment of fishers and other coastal resource users.
Dr. Ben Belton is an interdisciplinary social scientist who has lived and worked extensively in South and Southeast Asia. His research focuses on the political economy of aquaculture and capture fisheries development, value chains and food systems, rural economies, and their links to food and nutrition security, poverty, wellbeing, and the environment. Ben holds a joint appointment as Global Lead for Social and Economic Inclusion with WorldFish, Malaysia, and Associate Professor of International Development, in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, USA.
Dr. Julia M. Wright is George Munro Chair of Literature and Rhetoric at Dalhousie University and President of the Academy of the Arts and Humanities for the Royal Society of Canada. She co-founded, with Danine Farquharson, the Social Sciences and Humanities Oceans Research and Education network between Memorial and Dalhousie, and co-edited the book series, Ashgate Series in Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Studies (2005-2017).
Dr. Charlie Mather is professor of Geography at Memorial University. He is co-lead of an Ocean Frontier Large Research Project on Social Licence and Planning in Coastal Communities. Together with colleagues at Memorial and Dalhousie, he is working on a range of topics related to aquaculture and social acceptability broadly defined including marine debris, salmon naturecultures, feed bio-economies, aquaculture as frontier industry, and eco-certification. Theoretically he works at the intersection between STS and political economy.