TITLE

Science, Salmon, and Sea Lice: Constructing Practice and Place in an Environmental Controversy

AUTHOR(S)
Bocking, Stephen
PUB. DATE
November 2012
SOURCE
Journal of the History of Biology;Nov2012, Vol. 45 Issue 4, p681
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Over the last three decades salmon aquaculture has become both a significant coastal industry and a focus of controversy regarding its environmental impacts. Both circumstances have also provoked a great deal of environmental research. This article examines one episode in the history of this research. The Broughton Archipelago is a region of islands and channels on the Pacific coast of Canada, densely populated with salmon farms. Beginning in 2001 this region attracted researchers from several institutions, who examined the ecology of the farms, and particularly the possibility that they release large numbers of parasites (known as sea lice), which then infect wild salmon. This local research community drew on aspects of the regional environment, including its ecological conditions, and opportunities for surveys, field experiments, and ecological modeling, to construct methods that were both situated in this place, yet intended to be persuasive to audiences outside the region. Knowledge of this environment was also influenced by knowledge from elsewhere, including the results of European research on sea lice, and various disciplinary perspectives. Research results were invoked to support opposing views of the impacts of salmon farms, as well as contrasting perspectives on the region's identity. Sea lice themselves, within the context of the ecosystem that gave them meaning, were objectified as the ecological link between salmon farms and the environment, and the basis for research and debate over these farms. This historical episode therefore demonstrates the inseparability of scientific practice, knowledge and place, particularly in the context of controversy.
ACCESSION #
82503582

 

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