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Kind of turquoise: Effects of seafood eco-certification and sustainable consumption
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University , 2016. , 65 p.
Keyword [en]
eco-certification, eco-labeling, seafood, aquaculture, shrimp, LCA, consumer behavior
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132676ISBN: 978-91-7649-486-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-132676DiVA: diva2:953747
Public defence
2016-10-07, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Frescativägen 20, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE-2011-38
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 5: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2016-09-14 Created: 2016-08-18 Last updated: 2016-09-14Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Eco-certification of Farmed Seafood: Will it Make a Difference?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Eco-certification of Farmed Seafood: Will it Make a Difference?
2013 (English)In: Ambio, ISSN 0044-7447, Vol. 42, no 6, 659-674 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Eco-certification is widely considered a tool forreducing environmental impacts of aquaculture, but whatare the likely environmental outcomes for the world’sfastest growing animal-food production sector? This articleanalyzes a number of eco-certification schemes based onspecies choice, anticipated share of the global seafoodmarket, size of eligible producers, and targeted environ-mental impacts. The potential of eco-certification to reducethe negative environmental impacts of aquaculture at scalepresently appears uncertain as: (a) certification schemescurrently focus on species predominantly consumed in theEU and US, with limited coverage of Asian markets; (b)the share of certified products in the market as currentlyprojected is too low; (c) there is an inequitable and non-uniform applicability of certification across the sector; (d)mechanisms or incentives for improvement among theworst performers are lacking; and (e) there is incompletecoverage of environmental impacts, with biophysical sus-tainability and ecosystem perspectives generally lacking.

Keyword
Eco-certification, Aquaculture, Seafood, LCA, Sustainability, Environmental impacts
National Category
Environmental Sciences Biological Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-90056 (URN)10.1007/s13280-013-0409-3 (DOI)000323734700001 ()
Available from: 2013-05-20 Created: 2013-05-20 Last updated: 2016-08-18Bibliographically approved
2. Mangrove-shrimp farms in Vietnam – comparing organic and conventional systems using life cycle assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mangrove-shrimp farms in Vietnam – comparing organic and conventional systems using life cycle assessment
2015 (English)In: Aquaculture, ISSN 0044-8486, E-ISSN 1873-5622, Vol. 447, 66-75 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interactions between aquaculture and the environment remain a debated issue, especially in areas where the aquaculture sector is still expanding, such as in the Mekong delta in Vietnam. In response to environmental concerns, various eco-certification schemes have been introduced for seafood, aiming to improve production practices. In order to reflect upon the criteria of these certification schemes, life cycle assessment (LCA) was applied to conventional and certified extensive organic mangrove-shrimp farms in the lower Mekong. In total, 21 organic and 20 non-organic farms were included in the study for evaluation of effects on global warming (including emissions from land transformation and occupation), eutrophication and acidification. Monte Carlo simulations and random sampling were applied to aggregate contributing processes into results. The emissions of greenhouse gasses per ton of shrimp produced were substantial for both groups, and almost solely caused by the release of carbon during mangrove land transformation. Differences in the land area needed to support shrimp production explain the discrepancy. Organic farms emitted less CO2-equivalents (eq.) than the non-organic farms in 75% of the Monte Carlo iterations. Acidification impacts were similar for the two groups, with higher emissions from the non-organic farms in 67% of the iterations. Meanwhile, most mangrove-integrated farms showed a net uptake of eutrophying substances, indicating that both types of mangrove-shrimp production systems are nutrient limited. In order to put the results into perspective, a comparison with intensive and semi-intensive shrimp farms was made. While the extensive mangrove-shrimp farms showed higher emissions of CO2-eq. per ton shrimp produced (20 tons in average for organic and non-organic farms compared to 10 tons from intensive/semi-intensive production), results indicated lower impacts in terms of both acidification and eutrophication. We recommend LCA to be used as a central tool for identifying practices relevant for eco-certification audits, including considerations for land use. However, a better understanding of the consequences of land quality change and linkages to impacts at the ecosystem level e.g. effects on ecosystem services, is needed.

Keyword
Shrimp, Aquaculture, Life cycle assessment, Organic, Eco-certification, Vietnam
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110831 (URN)10.1016/j.aquaculture.2014.11.001 (DOI)000359496700008 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council, SWE- 2011-38
Available from: 2014-12-18 Created: 2014-12-18 Last updated: 2016-08-18Bibliographically approved
3. Ecosystem service information to benefit sustainability standards for commodity supply chains
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ecosystem service information to benefit sustainability standards for commodity supply chains
Show others...
2015 (English)In: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, ISSN 0077-8923, E-ISSN 1749-6632, Vol. 1355, 77-97 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The growing base of information about ecosystem services generated by ecologists, economists, and other scientists could improve the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of commodity-sourcing standards being adopted by corporations to mitigate risk in their supply chains and achieve sustainability goals. This review examines various ways that information about ecosystem services could facilitate compliance with and auditing of commodity-sourcing standards. We also identify gaps in the current state of knowledge on the ecological effectiveness of sustainability standards and demonstrate how ecosystem-service information could complement existing monitoring efforts to build credible evidence. This paper is a call to the ecosystem-service scientists to engage in this decision context and tailor the information they are generating to the needs of the standards community, which we argue would offer greater efficiency of standards implementation for producers and enhanced effectiveness for standard scheme owners and corporations, and should thus lead to more sustainable outcomes for people and nature.

Keyword
certifcation, implementation, evaluation, ecological effectiveness, corporate, outcomes
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-124584 (URN)10.1111/nyas.12961 (DOI)000369996800005 ()26555859 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2015-12-30 Created: 2015-12-30 Last updated: 2016-08-18Bibliographically approved
4. Eco-labeled Seafood: Determinants for (Blue) Green Consumption
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Eco-labeled Seafood: Determinants for (Blue) Green Consumption
Show others...
2016 (English)In: Sustainability, ISSN 2071-1050, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 8, 884Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Eco-certification has become an increasingly popular market-based tool in the endeavor to reduce negative environmental impacts from fisheries and aquaculture. In this study, we aimed at investigating which psychological consumer characteristics influence demand for eco-labeled seafood by correlating consumers’ stated purchasing of eco-labeled seafood to nine variables: environmental knowledge regarding seafood production, familiarity with eco-labels, subjective knowledge, pro-environmental self-identification, sense of personal responsibility, concern for negative environmental impacts from seafood production, perceived consumer effectiveness, gender and education. Questionnaires were distributed to consumers in Stockholm, Sweden, and the data were tested with multiple regression analysis using linear modeling and model averaging (n = 371). Two variables were the best predictors of stated purchasing of eco-labeled seafood: (i) recognition and understanding of eco-labels for seafood (Marine Stewardship Council, Fish for Life, Aquaculture Stewardship Council and KRAV); and (ii) concern for negative environmental impacts associated with seafood production. Meanwhile, consumer environmental knowledge was a weaker predictor. Results from this study suggest that strengthening the emotional component of consumer decision-making and improving the level of consumer familiarity with seafood eco-labels could stimulate more pro-environmental seafood consumption.

Keyword
eco-labeling, certification, seafood, consumer behavior, Sweden
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132673 (URN)10.3390/su8090884 (DOI)
External cooperation:
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE-2011-38
Available from: 2016-08-18 Created: 2016-08-18 Last updated: 2016-09-14Bibliographically approved
5. Sustainable Seafood Purchasing in Sweden - Unpacking Drivers and Barriers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sustainable Seafood Purchasing in Sweden - Unpacking Drivers and Barriers
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose - This study focuses on drivers and barriers for furthering consumer driven demand for eco-labeled seafood in Sweden. The purpose was to increase the understanding of two internal variables identified in earlier work as particularly important for pro-environmental seafood consumption: (1) concern for negative environmental impacts from seafood production and (2), recognition and understanding of seafood eco-labels.

Design/methodology/approach - Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 15 seafood consumers in Stockholm, Sweden.

Findings - The majority expressed concern about how seafood is produced but few stated that they buy eco-labeled seafood. A number of potential barriers against increased consumer demand for eco-labeled seafood were delineated: (i) limited knowledge of how seafood is produced, (ii) lack of affective narratives stimulating concern, (iii) animal welfare is less of a concern for seafood in comparison to other animal sourced foods, (vi) lack of familiarity with seafood eco-labels, and (v) a mismatch between motives for eco-labeled food purchase and criteria for eco-labeled seafood.

Practical implications - The results suggest that consumer demand likely is a limited driver for a transformation towards seafood sustainability. The burden of responsibility for environmentally sound seafood production may therefore need to be shifted towards large market actors and governmental institutions.

Originality/value - To the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to investigate internal drives and barriers for increased demand for eco-labeled seafood in Sweden. Moreover, qualitative studies on consumer perceptions of sustainable seafood have to date been rare. 

Keyword
eco-labeling, certification, seafood, pro-environmental behavior, Sweden
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132675 (URN)
External cooperation:
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE-2011-38
Available from: 2016-08-18 Created: 2016-08-18 Last updated: 2016-09-01Bibliographically approved

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