Unevenness in America’s blue economy: socio-spatial juxtapositions in global and local seafood chains

Authors: Stephanie Webb*, UNIV OF CALIFORNIA SANTA
Topics: Economic Geography, Marine and Coastal Resources, Food Systems
Keywords: commodity chains, governance, seafood, blue economy
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: Download



Unevenness in America’s Blue economy addresses three questions: 1) who are the key actors and what are crucial activities in local and global seafood commerce? 2) how are local and global markets connected? 3) how are formal and informal governance (or authority) created and exerted throughout multiscalar seafood distribution? To explain formal and informal governance in multiscalar seafood commerce, I situate seafood trade in Gereffi's global value chain and Coe's production network geology. I also conducted a commodity systems analysis of the Pacific herring global commodity chain using harvest and export data. Pacific herring are edible, biologically available, politically accessible, and geographically transnational. For the past 35-years, Pacific herring have been harvested in the U.S. for the Japanese luxury kazunoko (caviar) market, but are rarely, if ever, available as food in U.S. local or regional marketplaces. I mapped activities and linkages between actors constituting local and global Pacific herring commodity chains. I also use R to determine concentration and price transmission among actors. I demonstrate that power asymmetry manifests through “quid-pro-quo” relationships with dockside wholesalers and cash incentives provided by major transnational traders, who operate in high-volume, low-value paradigms. I argue export markets simultaneously ground, and hold down low-volume, high-value domestic markets. In the absence of export markets, fishers have fewer economic incentives to participate in fisheries, thereby, stifling supply for local markets. I conclude by explaining that governance arrangements within multiscalar seafood commerce perpetuate America's reliance on export seafood economies, which ultimately derail utopian visions of the Blue economy.

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