Environmental Governance and Globalization: The Salmon Industry in Chile
AuthorRivas, Ricardo E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractEnvironmental Governance is a challenge for countries whose economic growth is underpinned by natural resources. On one hand, the state has to keep political legitimacy reacting to internal demands from a diverse civil society in the context of a democratic regime. On the other, the state has to tackle demands from global capitalism to be in the global market. This dissertation sheds light on how developing countries can build and exert environmental governance. In this dissertation, environmental governance is the process of making decisions regarding public goods or services and providing them integrating actors from outside the state. The case study is the farmed salmon industry in Chile. It is a strategic case because aquaculture is a globalized activity that is presenting ambivalent consequences. It is an opportunity for countries like Chile to develop technology and knowledge in a sector that has a higher level of added value although it is based on natural resources. At the same time, it is an industry that demands coordination between the state and the companies to ensure the social and environmental sustainability of the industry and many workers and communities related to this activity. The farmed salmon industry in Chile has been known as a competitive sector, being the second exporter of farmed salmon in the world. Unfortunately, this rapid growth since the 2000s has had costs. Fish illnesses and pollution of the ecosystem have been present during all this time. A crucial moment was in 2007 when a virus provoked a dramatic breakdown, killing tons of fish and provoking an economic and serious social crisis. This was a milestone in the history of this industry that led the state to implement a process of new regulation and promote a new style of production. This can be considered as a shift in the environmental governance of the farmed salmon industry in Chile. This dissertation examines and explains the mentioned shift and its consequences on the organization of the farmed salmon industry in Chile. Given that is only one case examined, the dependent variable has been explained considering diverse dimensions. To do so, three aspects of sustainability were defined to control differences regarding the environmental governance shift in the farmed salmon industry in Chile. The first is the use of pharmaceutical products, the second is the use of marine location through concessions, and the third aspect is the dependency of the farmed salmon industry on fishmeal. These three aspects were analyzed from an Integrated Political Economy of the Environment perspective. This theoretical framework is based on perspectives of the Environmental Sociology and Sociology of Globalization. The perspective elaborated in this dissertation considers three actors or processes in permanent tension: the state, the civil society, and the globalization. I explain the environmental governance shift for each aspect of sustainability focused on the relationships between these actors. The farmed salmon industry in Chile was a theoretically strategic case. It was carried out codification of trade journal articles, laws, and governmental reports. Codes were based on the three aspects of the dependent variable mentioned above and four aspects of environmental governance. Quantitative data elaborated by organizations and other pieces of research were integrated into the qualitative analysis. Regarding the environmental governance of pharmaceutical products, it was possible to understand that changes were associated with more information from the companies to the government agencies but without a complete transparency. The regulation was not more explicit about the restriction of pharmaceutical products beyond those chemicals internationally banned. The pressure in this regard came from buyers such as supermarket chains, what is the starting point of international regulation though certification schema. Also, International NGOs exert an indirect pressure toward the salmon industry in Chile, demanding better information from American environmental organizations. With respect to the use of marine locations, this dissertation found that the state keeps its prerogative of marine property administration as a mechanism of governance. Based on this principle, the state carried out important transformations that in general aimed to rescue the industry and give a new opportunity allowing its expansion toward southern Chile seeking cleaner waters. Another important measure was the rescue of the industry through subsidies and the possibility to use concessions as collateral for bank loans. Finally, the implementation of biosecurity zones which are known as “Salmon Neighborhoods.” These zones allow a better coordination of biosecurity procedures and a faster reaction facing contagious illnesses. Regarding the use of fish feed and dependency on fishmeal, this was not a matter of legislation or agreements at the time of the studied environmental governance shift. It was only a concern of international organizations from which Chile was totally disconnected. As a general conclusion, the new environmental governance of the salmon industry in Chile can be defined as an unstable balance instead of a trilemma. The main aim of this vulnerable balance of governance is to regulate an industry based on the idea of self-regulation and an endless growth and capital accumulation, dramatically conditioned by dynamics of global capitalism.
Degree ProgramGraduate College