Institutionalizing area-level risk management: Limitations faced by the private sector in aquaculture improvement projects

Bottema, Mariska J.M.


Aquaculture improvement projects (AIPs) have emerged as a novel form of market-based sustainability governance. Recognizing that aquaculture production is dependent on public resources, AIPs have been promoted as a mechanism for addressing shared or area-level production risk between farms. However, it remains unclear how different AIP models manage shared risk and at what scale. This article contributes an improved understanding of how AIPs led by NGOs and buyers address risk management at different scales by comparing a ‘top-down basic’ AIP in Vietnam and a ‘bottom-up comprehensive’ AIP in China. The results indicate that AIPs struggle with institutionalizing risk management at an area-level because of the difficulties both NGOs and buyers face in inducing horizontal cooperation to address shared risk between farmers. This is attributed to the poor capacity of these actors to align either top-down or bottom-up comprehensive AIPs with the social and environmental conditions of production. AIPs are more likely to be successful in institutionalizing shared area-level risk management if they build on the existing social networks of farmers. Such an approach means moving beyond dualistic top-down basic and bottom-up comprehensive models to more socially integrative area-based AIP models.