Key players in the Grieg NL Placentia Bay Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture Project: a social network analysis
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Global aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food industries, accounting for approximately half of all finfish and invertebrate production as of 2016. In Canada, both the federal and provincial governments are pushing strongly for the development of the industry, which creates a problem in that governments are both regulators and promoters of the industry. In Newfoundland (NL), a recent aquaculture development, the Grieg NL Placentia Bay Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture Project, was controversial due to the waiving of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) by the NL Government, resulting in a court case. Here, the Grieg NL case was studied to understand how stakeholders operate in salmon aquaculture developments, specifically when governments waive critical procedures such as EIAs. A social network analysis was accompanied by semi-structured interviews to identify key players associated with the Project and their underlying motivations. The results indicated that ENGOs and aquaculture industry were the two key stakeholder groups with opposing views on the Project, the former being opposed to the Project and the latter being supportive of the Project. The four underlying motivations from the semi-structured interviews included: (1) social and economic benefits associated with the Project, (2) farmed salmon as healthy/unhealthy food, (3) environmental concerns, and (4) government regulation. This study highlights the growing importance of the term social licence to operate (SLO) in aquaculture developments, and stresses the practicality of using social network analysis and semi-structured interviews to better understand the different stakeholders that are involved in the granting/withholding of SLOs. Keywords: salmon aquaculture; government regulation; environmental impact assessment; social network analysis; stakeholders; social licence to operate.