Global standardization and local complexity. A case study of an aquaculture system in Pampanga delta, Philippines



Mialhe F, Morales J, Dubuisson-Quellier S, Vagneron I, Dabbadie L & Little DC (2018) Global standardization and local complexity. A case study of an aquaculture system in Pampanga delta, Philippines. Aquaculture, 493, pp. 365-375.

International standards result from global policies formulated primarily to address issues on food safety, traceability, environmental impact as well as social accountability. As in other agro-food industries, these rules increasingly regulate aquaculture, especially since it has started to be the object of many criticisms. The standards are generally designed in a top-down way and do not always consider the local specificities of production systems. Such implementation favors the emergence of similar patterns of production and trade across different locations. Based on a case study, this paper aims to highlight the gap between the vision conveyed by expert-based, simple and replicable policies of standardization,versusthe real complexity and uniqueness of local aquaculture systems. The assumption is that the lack of recognition of this complexity leadsde factoto the reproduction of dominant modes of production based on standards, ignoring some local actors with a capacity for innovation, while favoring a few larger stakeholders. To reveal the gap, the study looks at some agents of an extensive aquaculture system in the Philippines and at their interaction, focusing on gleaning and trading activities. It then reveals the changes that followed the local implementation of an International food safety standard. It finally discusses (i) the links between the global and normative point of view, and the local and unique dynamics and (ii) some bridges able to reconcile both.

Aquaculture; International food standards; Pampanga (Philippines); Social-ecological system; Commodity chain; Livelihoods; Gleaning

Aquaculture: Volume 493

Publication date01/08/2018
Publication date online03/10/2017
Date accepted by journal28/09/2017

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Professor Dave Little
Professor Dave Little

Professor, Institute of Aquaculture