Colloquium MSc thesis Stefan Vasilev

Published on
July 1, 2014

You are hereby kindly invited to the presentation of the MSc thesis of Stefan Vasilev entitled, 'How do Dutch retailers and importers of shrimp cope with the multiplicity of certification schemes on sustainable shrimp?'

Author: Stefan Vasilev, MSc International Development Studies (MID)

Supervisors: Dr. Ir. Otto Hospes (Public Administration and Policy Group and Dr. Ir. Peter Oosterveer (Environmental Policy Group)

Date: 10:00 hours, 3 July 2014

Location: room C84, Leeuwenborch Building, Hollandseweg 1, Wageningen


Shrimp farming has attracted criticism of being destructive to marine ecosystems and mangrove forests, livelihoods and of high use of antibiotics. Third-party certification is a way to ensure these concerns are addressed by the farms. Based on findings in the literature, the current MSc thesis indicated four major certification schemes on sustainable shrimp: Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), GlobalGAP (GGAP) and Friend of the Sea (FoS). The existence of several certification schemes on sustainable shrimp might have some negative consequences, which can hinder the adoption of practices aimed at sustainability. Multiplicity might confuse consumers, increase costs of the companies and lead to contradictory implementation of sustainable practices. The objectives of the research are both empirical and theoretical. The first relates to the preferences and the tactics of Dutch importers and retailers to manage multiple standards. The second connects to the debates and future development of the aforementioned standards.

The MSc thesis answers the question whether and how shrimp importers and retailers cope with the existence of multiple standards. The MSc research reviewed existing official documents of the certification schemes and conducted interviews with various importers and retailers. The MSc thesis consists of four research questions. First, MSc thesis presents to what extend certification schemes differ in their organizational structure, supporting stakeholders and the content of the standards. Second, the thesis follows the power relations in the value chain, especially those between importers and retailers as these relations determine the ability to make independent choices. Third, the criteria of importers and retailers to choose for a certification scheme are analyzed. These criteria were separated into two groups: based on the reputation and stakeholder networks on the one hand and the content of the standards, on the other. Fourth, the MSc thesis discusses the tactics to manage the multiplicity adopted by retailers and importers. Finally, the empirical and theoretical implications of the research are discussed. The emphasis falls on the role of the NGOs and retailers in driving the certification and whether there are indications for convergence and differentiation between the schemes.

Keywords: Shrimp, multiplicity, networks, content of the standards, importers, retailers