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Accepted Paper:

Taking Care of Sea Cucumbers. Artisanal Aquaculture in Swahili Ocean Worlds  
Paula Uimonen (Stockholm University)

Paper Short Abstract:

Farming sea cucumbers entails all kinds of caring practices. In Tanzania, this emerging form of aquaculture is encouraged by the government’s Blue Economy development paradigm, which aims to raise income in fishing communities, while protecting the ocean. The sea cucumbers are exported to China.

Paper Abstract:

Farming sea cucumbers for export to China is an emerging form of artisanal aquaculture in Tanzania. It is encouraged by the government’s Blue Economy development paradigm, which aims to raise income in fishing communities, while protecting the ocean. This paper interrogates sea cucumber farming in coastal communities, where humans and sea cucumbers have coexisted for many years. Over time, the sea cucumber has become a priced product, collected by divers and sold for export to China. Due to a global depletion of stocks, collection has been banned for the last two decades. Instead, aquaculture is now being promoted, whereby the sea cucumber is grown in fenced areas in the ocean, as a commodity for the global seafood market. Approaching sea cucumbers as fellow creatures (Haraway 2016, Ingold 2022), the paper probes artisanal aquaculture in terms of practices of care and domestication, focusing on embodied engagement and relational forms of knowing (Lien 2015, 2022, Puig de la Bellacasa 2017, Singleton 2010). Thinking with seawater in amphibious environments (Helmreich 2011, Pauwelussen and Verschoor 2017), it also interrogates the politics of landscapes of domestication (Swanson 2018), arguing that caring for ocean creatures as export commodities can disorient people from caring for the oceanic ecosystem. Contrary to the rhetoric of Blue Economy, farming sea cucumbers has yet to improve local livelihoods, while it carries the risk of killing off these ocean creatures and destroying the delicate ecological balance of coastal environments.

Panel OP120
Caring for ocean creatures
  Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -