The imperishable controversy over aquaculture

Studio Apertura

​Fish farming has been a recurring topic of debate, not the least in the news media. The media is an important source of information about the aquaculture industry and its products to the public.

However, the media is also an important debate arena, enabling representatives of the public, stakeholders, authorities, and the industry to engage in discussions as well as to influence policy and regulations.

This paper focuses on the continuous debates in news media, the topics and storylines discussed, the various actors participating, and their arguments. Through a study of the content, positions, and producers of debate contributions in nine Norwegian newspapers, this paper sheds light on the public debate on aquaculture and the present controversies.

Drawing on discourse theory, it is argued that the concept of discursive conflicts offers important insights into the controversies surrounding aquaculture. Discourse coalitions unite seemingly dissimilar and independent actors, and shared story lines provide political momentum, reduce complexity and reify the debate. However, such coalitions also contribute to maintaining the debate in a deadlock.