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Accepted Paper:

Re-configuring aquaculture sustainability assurance in the digital age  
Sake Kruk (Wageningen University) Hilde Toonen (Wageningen University) Simon Bush

Paper short abstract:

We explore how digital technologies are put to use to (re)organize the rules, procedures and practices of sustainability assurance in aquaculture. We identify shifts in the ways in which trust in sustainable production is institutionalized in the aquaculture sector.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the emergence of digital sustainability assurance in the aquaculture sector. Over the past decades, third-party certifications have emerged as the dominant mechanism to assure the sustainability of aquaculture products. Certifications are designed to rely on ‘analog’ means of assurance including in-person audit visits to production locations. Digital technologies provide new opportunities to collect and verify data, assess sustainability and identify areas of improvement. Satellite imagery, drones and sensors enable remote monitoring. Blockchain technology allows for temper-proof information sharing in value chains. Using digital applications, distant actors can communicate in real time. Together, they promise to make sustainability assurance more transparent, effective, efficient, accurate, accessible and scalable. We explore how digitalization enables shifts in - and novels forms of - assurance. Based on interviews with key experts and organizations in the aquaculture sector, we investigate how digital technologies are put to use to (re)organize the rules, procedures and practices of sustainability assurance. Building on the sociology of trust, we then identify shifts in the ways in which trust in sustainable production is institutionalized in the aquaculture sector. Preliminary analysis reveals a shift towards both increased surveillance as well as a stronger focus on enabling improvement as logics of trust.

Panel P42a
Managed by the machine: AI and the new politics of supply chains
  Session 1 Wednesday 8 June, 2022, -