The making of a louse - Constructing governmental technology for sustainable aquaculture

Studio Apertura

​Salmon production, and aquaculture in general, entails certain environmental risks that must be managed and controlled. In Norway, as in other aquaculture-producing countries, governments seek means of improving the industry and encouraging sustainable conduct. In Norwegian aquaculture regulation, the salmon louse has become an important indicator and regulatory instrument – a governmental technology.

The louse is a proxy for the environmental impact of the industry and as a governmental technology, it is used to regulate and incite behavior. In this paper, we draw on results from both interviews and an analysis of responses to a consultation round for a governmental White Paper proposing new means for regulating the growth of the aquaculture industry. Based on these results, we investigate the becoming of the salmon louse as a regulatory instrument, and how this is perceived among relevant stakeholders. The political significance of the salmon louse serves to illuminate how a governmental technology is created to instill control from a distance.

The history of how the salmon louse has become a governable object additionally elucidates disagreements and uncertainties surrounding modern salmon farming and demonstrates that the creation of governmental technologies persists in the face of resistance.