Media perspectives of salmon aquaculture over time in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland
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In Canada, Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) aquaculture has been growing rapidly and is consistently being promoted for its potential to support economic growth and employment opportunities. However, salmon aquaculture is a controversial topic in Canada, making maintaining and acquiring social license an enduring challenge. The factors that drive acceptance by neighbouring communities and wider society, however, are poorly understood and are likely highly place-specific, due to different environmental, economic and social contexts. Through a media analysis and literature review, the aim of this research was to understand the relations between how aquaculture is portrayed and the evolving environmental, socio-economic, and political dimensions of the industry. New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were compared to identify any potential similarities or differences among the factors that drive social acceptance in areas that have different histories of aquaculture development. Results suggest that acceptance may be due to the age of the industry as areas with a longer history of aquaculture activity face fewer obstacles to development and encounter less negative media. Additionally, beliefs about how environmental risks are managed may result in a lack of trust in industry and government. Finally, the way neighbouring communities view the industry’s potential contribution to local benefits and risks may be more of an influencing factor than the perceived or actual environmental impacts of the farm. This study concluded by providing recommendations on potential ways to increase social acceptance of the industry, such as including the community more in the decision-making process and increasing transparency of the industry.