In this paper, we critically analyze how sustainability is considered in aquaculture policies and strategies using the Nordic countries as a case. The strong versus weak sustainability concepts are used to define and clarify what sustainability aspects are central to each state. To illustrate these concepts further, we draw on and modify four mainstream environmental discourses defined by John Dryzek and apply them to the strong and weak sustainability dichotomy to help categorize how environmental sustainability is portrayed in Nordic aquaculture policies and strategies. Subsequently we apply the characteristics of the concepts to aquaculture and sustainability in the Nordic countries. This allows us to identify each state’s depiction of sustainable aquaculture, compare these to one another and assess where the Nordic states position themselves regarding sustainability and aquaculture. Our findings show that the policies emphasize technological advancements, intensification, and economic growth, which correlates with weak sustainability. Environmental sustainability receives a significant role in the documents too but does not seem to trump increased intensification or profitability. All policies are heavily focused on fed aquaculture and in order to reduce negative impacts from aquaculture there is a need to incorporate key elements of strong sustainability in policies, including measures to reduce impacts from pollution and the spread of pathogens, use of high-grade food resources and energy consumption. This to transform the industry to sustainability rather than just making it less unsustainable.
Keywords: Aquaculture, Nordics, Policy, Sustainability
Citation: Luthman, O., M. Jonell, P. Rönnbäck, and M. Troell. 2021 Aquaculture 550:737841.