Alternative environmentalities: recasting the assessment of Canada’s first Marine Stewardship Council-certified fishery in social terms

Foley, Paul and Okyere, Dinah A. and Mather, Charles (2018) Alternative environmentalities: recasting the assessment of Canada’s first Marine Stewardship Council-certified fishery in social terms. Ecology and Society, 23 (3). ISSN 1708-3087

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We use a Foucault-inspired environmentalities analytical lens to conceptualize alternative sustainability auditing frameworks. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) claims to administer the international gold standard for sustainability evaluation of fisheries, yet the livelihoods of many people who depend on Canada’s first MSC-certified fishery are in serious jeopardy. After decades of growth that helped fishers and coastal communities alleviate the social consequences of the infamous cod collapse, the northern shrimp fishery in eastern Canada is experiencing ecological change and social conflict over the distribution of quota reductions. However, recent disputes over the distribution, and social consequences, of quota reductions in this fishery are completely invisible in assessment and auditing documents for the successful recertification of the fishery to the MSC’s standard for “sustainable and well managed fisheries” in 2016. We draw upon aspects of an alternative assessment framework to highlight information and knowledge that a socially attentive sustainability audit of this fishery might consider. The alternative auditing framework renders visible social dimensions of Canada’s northern shrimp fishery, including government decision making that incorporates ethical and moral economy principles, the distribution of access to various interests, uses of access benefits for regional and community development purposes, and conflict over policy and resource access during a period of resource decline and dispossession. Although the spread of auditing frameworks across natural resource sectors tends to reinforce neoliberal interests and undermine social justice aims, we argue that the development of alternative assessment frameworks that clearly make visible materialist social development relationship and knowledge can enable action in support of social justice objectives.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 13699
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Keywords: assessment frameworks, audits; environmentality, governmentality, Marine Stewardship Council, sustainability
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Geography
Grenfell Campus > School of Science and the Environment > Environmental Policy Institute
Date: October 2018
Date Type: Publication
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