Indicating Sustainable Salmon Farming: The case of the new Norwegian aquaculture management scheme
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Norway, the world's leader in the production and export of farmed Atlantic salmon, recently established a new management regime with a view to promoting substantial long-term growth in the industry. The government stated plainly, however, that the industry would have to be environmentally sustainable. The determination would be made through the use of indicators, but only one indicator would go into effect as the new regime was instituted: the amount of salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) on wild salmon. This paper asks why this one, lone variable was selected. Using policy documents, the draft white paper outlining the new management plan sent out for comment by the government and the responses made by key stakeholders to the draft plan, this paper argues that the selection of this one indicator was overdetermined. Many factors contributed to the selection, including the government's fundamental decision to expand production, the momentum of Norwegian policy development, how the draft white paper defined and discussed environmental sustainability, the criteria established for acceptable indicators and the specifics of the proposed management plan. These had a political effect: For these reasons and more, no solid block of stakeholders emerged to press unambiguously for additional indicators at the start of the scheme, merited or not. This study also demonstrates the difficulties presented by a public debate on a management plan such as this.