Fishing companies are faced with decreasing profitability and increasing competition. These companies can try to gain a competitive advantage by differentiating their products, e.g. by marketing new product attributes that consumers are interested in such as attributes relating to sustainability. Although consumers could be considerably interested in social sustainability of fish, this sustainability dimension has received little research interest so far. The main objective of this thesis is to understand social sustainability of capture fisheries. Social sustainability can be understood by applying the framework for social sustainability assessment, which consists of stakeholder consultation and issue selection, indicator development and quantification, and interpretation of the results, to the case considered. The case considered in this thesis was capture fisheries in the northeast Atlantic. Stakeholder consultation resulted in the identification of 27 social sustainability issues relevant for capture fisheries in the northeast Atlantic. Overall, social sustainability issues concerning working conditions, employees' job fulfilment and fish welfare were seen as more important than other social sustainability issues. Indicators were defined for the most important social sustainability issues of capture fisheries in the northeast Atlantic. To interpret values for each indicator, rubrics were developed that articulated levels of performance. Application of these indicators and their accompanying rubrics to a Norwegian trawler demonstrated that the indicators and rubrics provide insight into social sustainability at the level of the vessel, which can be used to identify potential room for improvement. To determine whether social sustainability issues can be used for product differentiation, consumer interest in social sustainability issues of whitefish from the northeast Atlantic was studied. Results from a choice modelling survey demonstrated that consumers prefer the issue fish welfare over the issues product quality, worker safety and local employment. Given the lack of overview of the knowledge on fish welfare, the most important social sustainability issue for consumers, the literature on this topic was reviewed to determine how the capture process in capture fisheries affects fish welfare, using the indicators external injuries and mortality. This review showed that scale, skin and fin injuries occur more frequently in trawls, purse seines, gillnets, traps and seines than in hooks, whereas hooking injuries occur in hooks only. Pressure injuries can occur in all gear types when deployed at greater depth. Trawls, purse seines and seines result in higher mortality than gillnets, hooks and traps. Mortality appears to increase with decreasing fish length, and differs across fish species. A greater capture depth and a longer fishing duration were associated with more external injuries and higher mortality, whereas a large change in water temperature, a longer duration of air exposure and a high density in the net were associated with higher mortality only. This thesis shows that application of the framework for social sustainability assessment to capture fisheries in the northeast Atlantic leads to an understanding of social sustainability that fishing companies can use to their advantage. In addition, this thesis shows that fishing companies in the northeast Atlantic need to start paying attention to fish welfare because consumers consider fish welfare the most important social sustainability issue of capture fisheries in the northeast Atlantic.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||20 Jan 2017|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|
- animal welfare
- fishing methods
- northeast atlantic