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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Boat to fork : seafood value chains and alternative food networks Witter, Allison Louisa


Alternative food networks (AFNs) aim to restructure value chains to improve the ecological and socio-economic outcomes of food systems. In this thesis, I introduce the concept of seafood AFNs. Whereas existing literature has focused primarily on one type of seafood AFN – community supported fisheries (CSFs) – there is a gap in knowledge regarding the wider array of these types of enterprises. Further, there are questions related to their viability, scalability, and potential for broader impact. This thesis begins to address these research gaps through value chain analysis of various types of seafood AFNs. Through semi-structured interviews with seafood AFN representatives from across North America, I identify five key features emphasized along their diverse value chains: supporting (i) small-scale and (ii) place-based fishing through the provision of (iii) traceable, (iv) sustainable, and (v) high-quality seafood products. I also categorize market values and less tangible values promoted by these enterprises, as well as their key barriers, which highlight structural conflicts inherent in simultaneously participating in and resisting market-based structures. Further, through analysis of interview data from seafood value chain participants in a case study region, I highlight how the diversity, flexibility, and hybridity of seafood AFNs can present both challenges and opportunities to their application in new areas. My research also contributes to improved understanding of the market feasibility of seafood AFNs. Through a geographically stratified consumer survey, I suggest that consumers broadly prioritize seafood attributes situated at the consumption end of the value chain, such as product quality. Through Spearman two-tailed tests I also identify associations between demographic variables and certain seafood preferences. For example, younger consumers indicate higher willingness to pay for seafood features emphasized through seafood AFNs, older consumers have positive attitudes about the health benefits and convenience of seafood, and those situated in non-coastal locations perceive lower availability of local or domestic seafood. These results suggest that seafood AFNs should emphasize their high-quality product offerings and target specific consumer segments when looking to expand into new markets.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International