Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
This paper explores how one thinks ethnographically about aquaculture projects before they happen, with a focus on the buzz phase of fish farming in the Canadian Atlantic. The aquaculture industry relies on expensive inputs of processed feed which deplete natural fish stocks and require high levels of antibiotics, both of which externalize the costs of farming fish. Fish pens pollute and have negative impacts on surrounding ecologies. The industry often relies on one species, which make fish farms, in their own way, plantations of the sea. Yet the promise of stable jobs and economic growth to rural areas has helped the industry expand in Canadian coastal communities. This expansion promises to continue as wild fish stocks are disappearing due to ocean warming caused by climate change. How does one think ethnographically about the impacts of new aquaculture projects on coastal communities before the pens are built? This paper considers this challenge by conceptualizing the buzz of the aquaculture industry in coastal Canada and suggesting new directions for research. What role do local and provincial politics and policy play? How does the buzz phase differ for relatively small extractive projects like aquaculture and for relatively large-scale hydrocarbon and mining projects? How do small-scale fishers react to a proposed aquaculture site? What possibilities and problems might the aquaculture industry bring? What are the consultation processes at the local level? Methodologically, this paper synthesizes news reports and scholarly literatures to begin to conceptualize new directions for research.