Blue Governance Group
Social License to Operate for Aquaculture
Social License to Operate
for Aquaculture (SoLic)
What is it about?
SoLic will investigate the determinants, mechanisms, and consequences of social license in the aquaculture industry. Social license relates to how the public perceives their expectations and requirements are fulfilled when it comes to aquaculture. In this project, we will investigate what leads to social license, what are the consequences of achieving social license (or not). We will do this at three levels: macro (society), meso (industry), and micro (company).
This project is a collaboration between researchers in Norway, Iceland, and Australia (Tasmania).
Why is it important?
Sustainable growth in the aquaculture industry presupposes strong social anchoring nationally and locally. Media analysis of the public debate on aquaculture, however, shows that aquaculture
activities are often criticized, and that disapproval is voiced from a mix of different interest groups. Improving social approval for aquaculture is a two-way process where society's knowledge about and understanding of the aquaculture industry need to be strengthened, while the industry must acknowledge its social responsibility and respond to signals from society.
While we know that the industry's social capital is surprisingly weak compared to other types of food production, we have less knowledge of how social approval and trust towards the industry is distributed in the public, how/whether this is linked to misconceptions, lack of knowledge, poor dialogue between the industry and the public, and/or different values.
Furthermore, research indicates that a lack of a social license may result in public opposition with a high level of conflict. A social license may deteriorate if activities are deemed unacceptable or dubious, and stakeholder groups may protest or engage in other ways against the activities and actors involved. Conflict and opposition may affect the perception of the industry and specific companies, their framework conditions, and can even affect stock prices and consumption of their product.