Date of Award

Summer 7-19-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Policy


Joshua Stoll

Second Committee Member

Megan Bailey

Third Committee Member

Cindy Isenhour


Transformations in the ways we relate to the ocean are long overdue given the myriad of anthropogenic problems that exist – from overfishing to plastic pollution and acidification to ‘slavery-at-sea ’ and loss of access and fishing rights. Yet alongside the hegemonic modes of ocean exploitation exist diverse alternative economies, including those associated with alternative seafood networks, that aim to create different and more-than-economic relationships with marine systems. To situate my research within the broader literature, I interpret the widely used Brundtland Report definition of sustainability, “meet[ing] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED 1987, p. 43), as intra- and inter-generational justice, in line wit h Gottschlich and Bellina (2016), Fredericks (2012), and Baumgartner and Quaas (2010). My thesis begins in Chapter 1with an examination of food security through a sustainability-as-justice lens, incorporating an analysis of seafood production compared to undernourishment by country, a literature review of the transformative potential of alternative seafood networks, and policy and market-based recommendations for U.S. practitioners. For Blue Transformation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation’s plan foraquatic food systems from 2022-2030 (FAO 222), t o meaningfully contribute to food security as intended, a sustainability-as-justice lens is necessary to ensure procedural, distributive, and recognitive forms of justice important to the pillars of food security. This justice lens ultimately calls into question afundamental normative assumption of sustainable development –economic growth. In Chapter 2, I present results from participatory action researchas a participatory and emancipatorymethod–a way of enacting sustainability-as-justice. Questioning the extent of justice enacted through existing seafood sustainability certifications and motivated by the desire of seafood enterprise operators to hold themselves accountable and apart from a seafood system they seek to transform, this research lays the groundwork for an alternative to existing third-party seafood certifications. This research was inspired by Participatory Guarantee Systems, a peer-reviewed alternative to Organic certification for small-scale and alternative agricultural producers. Through this collaborative project, I worked with members of the Local Catch Network, a community-of-practice made up of alternative seafood networks from across the United States and Canada. Together, wecreateda self-evaluationtool to help seafood enterprise operatorsevaluate their practices in relationship to the Local Catch Network’snine core values, which encompass social, economic, and environmental sustainability. The output from this tool includes a set of103 accountability indicators that encompass multiple facets of justice and have the potential to form the basis for a seafood specific Participatory Guarantee System. By incorporating indicators both related to individual business practices and levels of collaboration in advocacy, this research sets up a system for future analysis of the capability of alternative seafood networks to both self-transform as well as to create change in the wider seafood system.