25 Apr

Aquaculture and the Post-Productive Transition on the Maine Coast

Preview Written By: Samuel Hanes

Article Title, Issue and Volume: Aquaculture and the Post-Productive Transition on the Maine Coast, Issue 107

What is the main purpose of your study?
This study asks why and how coastal residents and aquaculture farmers come to a consensus about aquaculture expansion. The broader purpose is to explore how diverse residents with different priorities come to agree on rural development in places that have lost traditional jobs.

What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
This study found that even when coastal residents expressed very different priorities, they were often able to find common ground with aquaculture farmers. Face-to-face discussions with farmers helped coastal residents see how farms could fit their priorities, and the same discussion helped farmers change their operations to fit what residents wanted.

How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
There are many studies that look at conflicting priorities over rural development in places that have lost traditional jobs. However, these studies rarely look at coastal rural places, and almost never at aquaculture, despite its rapid expansion.

What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
Many coastal residents have a lot of uncertainty about aquaculture due to unfamiliarity – it’s still small in the U.S. but it’s growing fast.

Coastal residents come to see aquaculture as compatible with their recreational and scenic priorities once they see it in the water and after learn about it in face-to-face meetings with farmers.

Aquaculture farmers try to increase acceptability of their farms by making them more artisanal.

What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
In Maine, face-to-face meetings create a bottom-up process that helps farmers fit aquaculture into coastal residents’ priorities, and that helped coastal residents get to know farmers. But face-to-face meetings also made disagreement personal with it arose. We need to study how people with different priorities about rural places interact directly, one-on-one.

How does your research help us think about Geography?
A major theme in geography is “place.” This research helps us think about how rural people, both longtime residents and newcomers, deal with profound changes to places they love, changes that are demographic, economic, and environmental, and how they find ways forward by creating consensus around deeply felt issues on the future of these place.