Decision making as articulation work in fish farming disease control

Studio Apertura
In the Norwegian fish farming industry effective proactive and reactive disease control is a key sustainability challenge. Diseases are one of the most important hazards for losses of production and for environmental harm, especially to wild fish. They are important challenges for an industry which, second to oil only, is a cornerstone in the Norwegian export economy. This paper draws on data from a project investigating how modelling and simulation based tools may support disease control in fish farming. Disease management in fish farming is best described as a situation where articulation work and situation awareness rests on the ability to integrate information from a wide spectrum of sources with high uncertainty, but also where acting on information implies mobilizing tightly coupled networks of interdependent actors and technologies representing constraints and opportunities for action. While risk management is typically portrayed and theorized in “closed contexts” like airline cockpits and control rooms, we here discuss “open” decision contexts and we describe some of the complexity faced when the industry and public agencies seek to manage diseases. We describe some of the work of situating information to support concrete decisions, and the need to align information and resources for action within the specific constraints and opportunities provided by these. High uncertainties, both in terms of understanding incumbent threats and the outcomes of different strategies and remedies, and weak signals further complicate the decisions. The mobilization of resources for disease control offers many of the coordination problems seen in response to societal crises (see e.g. McConnell and Drennan, 2006; Auerswald et al, 2006). We also build on the theorizing of coordination within sociology of work, and on decision theory.