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Seafood certifications are a prominent tool being used to encourage sustainability in marine fisheries worldwide. However, questions about their efficacy remain the subject of ongoing debate. A main criticism is that they are not well suited for small‐scale fisheries or those in developing nations. This represents a dilemma because a significant share of global fishing activity occurs in these sectors. To overcome this shortcoming and others, a range of “fixes” have been implemented, including reduced payment structures, development of fisheries improvement projects, and head‐start programs that prepare fisheries for certification. These adaptations have not fully solved incompatibilities, instead creating new challenges that have necessitated additional fixes.
We argue that this dynamic is emblematic of a common tendency in natural resource management where particular tools and strategies are emphasized over the conservation outcomes they seek to achieve. This can lead to the creation of “hammers” in management and conservation. We use seafood certifications as an illustrative case to highlight the importance of diverse approaches to sustainability that do not require certification. Focusing on alternative models that address sustainability problems at the local level and increase fishers’ adaptive capacity, social capital, and agency through “relational” supply chains may be a useful starting point.
Research news | 2020-10-19
New study shows how to engage with stakeholders in order for a science-based assessment to have an impact
Research news | 2020-10-15
With this pandemic, the opportunity to think outside the box is now
Research news | 2020-10-14
Elke Weber, a Princeton professor and member of the centre’s science advisory board, knows a thing or two about the human brain and what it takes to get people to act
Research news | 2020-10-14
New research determines the amount of prey required for marine top predators to thrive, improving fisheries management
Research news | 2020-10-09
A successful implementation of “panarchy” thinking in the US may boost reforms of environmental laws and policies
Research news | 2020-10-08
New study takes first step in analysing how resilience can be measured over time