The importance of Social Acceptability for Mediterranean aquaculture development: Stocktaking and the way forward

29 August 2018 (09.00 – 12.30) 
Aqua 2018, Montpellier (France)


Aquaculture in the Mediterranean bordering countries has grown substantially during the past decades, helping meet the rising demand for fishery products, and contributing in increasing food security, employment and economic development. However, further development of aquaculture raises concerns in terms of sustainability in the long term, including from a social perspective. In fact it is increasingly acknowledged that in many instances, one challenge to aquaculture growth is linked to social concerns and the acceptability of the sector.

Social acceptability of aquaculture development (SA) is an integral part of sustainability and refers to social licence to operate and the degree to which aquaculture activities are accepted or precluded by the public at large. This is an issue being debated in several fora that have highlighted the need to address the SA in terms of increasing the public understanding of aquaculture.

SA is quite an intangible entity influenced by “critical factors” and it can vary according to the general public’s perception and misconception of the sector, to the stakeholders involved and their main characteristics, and to the typology, objective and activities of aquaculture, often linked to local conditions. Understand the drivers that influence SA including social structure, issues and vision of the various individuals, groups and organisations, could help unlock the development potentiality of aquaculture and develop sustainable models that can also contribute building consensus around aquaculture activities.

In this context, the workshop takes stock of current knowledge of SA, on the general public’s awareness of aquaculture and with a special perspective from coastal and local communities, and presents and discusses the preliminary results of a study to assess critical factors, local drivers and peculiarities that influence SA particularly in the Mediterranean region. These will provide the basis for a Q&A session so as to fine-tune and enrich the findings and contribute in increasing knowledge on SA and identify practical actions.


The workshop is carried out within the “Social Acceptability and Governance work package (WP-7)” of the EU H2020 MedAID project organized in cooperation with EU H2020 PerformFISH and the outcomes will provide key elements to be considered for the preparation of the “Guidelines in support of SA of sustainable aquaculture development in the Mediterranean” to accompany governance and decision-making processes with practical methods and actions to improve SA.

The Workshop will be attended by (i) representatives of stakeholders/respondents that participated in the regional assessment; and (ii) interested participants attending the EAS-WAS event.


The Social Acceptability on aquaculture will be introduced and will be presented along with the objectives of the workshop and MedAID and PerformFISH related projects activities [Fabio Massa (GFCM-FAO, MedAID); José Perez (Ifremer, MedAID); Katia Tribilustova (Eurofish, PerformFISH)]. The workshop will be structured in two sessions:

Session 1: Framing the social acceptability of aquaculture
Moderator: Pablo Ávila Zaragozá

This session will propose four presentations delivered by keynote speakers outlining different aspects of social acceptability of aquaculture including the preliminary results of the on-going MedAID study. Few questions from the audience will follow each presentation.
• Public involvement in governance and social acceptability of aquaculture (Marianna Cavallo, Ifremer)
• Consumer attitude towards aquaculture products (Katia Tribilustova, Eurofish)
• Disinformation and social acceptability of aquaculture; A case from Mersin-Turkey (Ferit Rad, Mersin University)
• Preliminary results of the MedAID study to assess critical factors and drivers that influence social acceptability of aquaculture (Davide Fezzardi, FIAM – FAO)

Session 2: Panel discussion: Social acceptability as key driver for aquaculture development
Moderator: Pablo Ávila Zaragozá

This session will explore the different perspectives of social acceptability for aquaculture and will include a question and answer sub-session with a number of panellists involved in aquaculture at different levels, followed by an open discussion with the audience and conclusion of the workshop.
Panel will be composed by representatives from aquaculture farmers, farmers’ organizations, administrations dealing with aquaculture (national and local level), NGOs, media, researchers on social aspects of governance.

Open discussion with the audience
Discussion with the audience will touch relevant aspects on role and responsibility of different stakeholders to shape the public perception of aquaculture and aquaculture products, and the best way to distil good experiences and best practice to be shared to improve aquaculture image building and social acceptability.

Conclusion and follow up
The discussion points raised during the Q&A and open discussion will be summarized and key elements distilled to prepare a summary report and one/two key communication products (article, interview, video or other).