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A New Theory of Change for the Sustainable Seafood Movement

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  • This paper is the result of a project that began with NAAFE 2015 special session on Fisheries Certification, which asked what forces are driving the market for sustainable seafood. Many previous studies looked at consumers' demand, but in this paper we looked at the entire supply chain (from producers to retailers) to examine the mechanism creating the market for sustainable seafood. Using a retrospective case study approach to draw out and understand how the sustainable seafood movement’s ‘theory of change’ has evolved over a series of inductively-defined time periods, we trace the coordination failures inherent in these iterations of the theory of change, and propose an improved theory of change in which new forms of value chain partnerships better align the incentives of retailers, producers, and NGO-led sustainability programs to drive environmental improvements. Specifically, we propose a novel new actor embedded within the supply chain to initiate value chain partnerships creating brand (financial) risk of all firms. This new actor, labeled a ‘sustainable seafood aggregator’, can more efficiently align incentives and reduce transaction costs associated with the delivery to the global market of credible sustainability attributes of seafood, in turn delivering greater and more lasting environmental improvements in fisheries and aquaculture production.
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  • NAAFE Forum 2017 Proceedings, March 22-24, 2017. Compiled by Ann L. Shriver with assistance from Stefani Evers. North American Association of Fisheries Economists (NAAFE), Corvallis, 2017.
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  • 097634324X



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