Deliverable D7.3 – Lessons learned from study site implementation and recommendations

This report details the work carried out under Task 7.3 of WP7 (“Social acceptability and governance”). It mainly analyses how the social acceptability of aquaculture has been addressed with stakeholders in several case studies. More specifically, three case studies were selected to provide a comprehensive view of this issue in different institutional, political, economic and social and cultural contexts. One case study concerns the development of aquaculture in Greece with a focus on several territories, a second concerns the analysis of aquaculture development in the region of Andalusia, Spain, and finally the third case study concerns an analysis of further development of aquaculture in the Bay of Monastir, Tunisia.

In these case studies, the social acceptability of aquaculture was addressed by considering the different dimensions that may condition the perception and attitudes of local communities towards the aquaculture sector and its products. These dimensions are often addressed through the private considerations related to the positive or negative impacts that aquaculture companies can induce on the social ecological systems where they take place. But public considerations must also be taken into account associated to the role played by public authorities in the governance of coastal territories. Policies aiming at aquaculture development in the framework of the blue economy are confronted with the social complexity encountered in integrated management and maritime spatial planning.

The work carried out emphasizes the good practices carried out by companies, as a means of improving their social acceptability. Moreover, the results also emphasize that social acceptability is not only a matter of perception and communication. Beyond these considerations, which are indeed relevant, insufficient governance and, particularly, poor inclusion of stakeholders in the decision-making process, are key factors to the social acceptability of aquaculture. Planning built on quantitative objectives (in tonnage and licences) does not always match the needs of local communities and the social complexity of the territories. This leads to social opposition processes and blockages and irreversibility of opposition to development projects in most cases.

This work also underlines the interest of working with the stakeholders from the perspective of building a shared vision of the role that aquaculture can play in the coastal territories. The governance gaps observed in the case studies call for the need to explore new ways of institutional innovation aiming at matching the political objectives of aquaculture development with the socio-economic needs of local territories.

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