Research Article: The perception of aquaculture on the Swedish West Coast

Date Published: September 22, 2017

Publisher: Springer Netherlands

Author(s): Jean-Baptiste E. Thomas, Jonas Nordström, Emma Risén, Maria E. Malmström, Fredrik Gröndahl.


Efforts are on the way on the Swedish West Coast to develop the capacity for cultivation of marine resources, notably of kelps. Given that this is a region of great natural and national heritage, public opposition to marine developments has been identified as a possible risk factor. This survey thus sought to shed light on awareness levels, perceptions of different types of aquaculture and on reactions to a scenario depicting future aquaculture developments on the West Coast. When asked about their general opinions of aquaculture, respondents tended to be favourable though a majority chose neutral responses. On the whole, respondents were favourable to the depicted scenario. Finally, it was found that the high-awareness group tended to be more supportive than the low or medium-awareness groups, hinting at the benefits of increasing awareness to reduce public aversion and to support a sustainable development of aquaculture on the Swedish West Coast.

Partial Text

There is a rising tide of interest in the cultivation of seaweed biomass in Europe. Cultivated seaweed provide distinguished advantages over other cultivated biomasses: they require little or no arable land, fertilisers or fresh water (Subhadra and Edwards 2010; John et al. 2011; Wei et al. 2013) while providing a variety of other ecosystem services, including nutrient bioremediation (Chung et al. 2002) and possibly habitat provision (Phillips 1990). Seaweed biomass shows promising potential as a material in the production of biofuels, fertiliser, materials, chemicals, feed and food (Jung et al. 2013; van Hal et al. 2014; Chapman et al. 2015; Pechsiri et al. 2016; Tayyab et al. 2016; Molina-Alcaide et al. 2017). Coupled with a significant projected growth in the fisheries sector to meet a growing demand for protein (OECD/FAO 2015) and calls for the development of marine biomass within the blue growth initiative to support more sustainable bio-based economies (EU Commission 2012), the coming decades are likely to see significant increases in the development of off- and near-shore production systems, not just of seaweed, but also of fish, crustaceans and molluscs. Efforts are thus being directed to nurture a sustainable, low-impact and socially beneficial aquaculture industry (World Bank 2006; Gibbs 2009; Krause et al. 2015).

A web-panel survey was conducted in 2015 with help of the fieldwork agency, Norstat. Members of the Norstat Panel with registered addresses in the study area (see Fig. 1) were randomly selected and offered financial compensation, SEK 40 (US $5), to respond to the online questionnaire. The survey was distributed in Swedish and translated to English for analysis. The responses from 695 respondents were included in the final analysis, from a total of 700 responses. To achieve a moderately representative sample from the residents of the West Coast, age and gender targets were set for each municipality to match the population of the study area using data from Statistics Sweden. Batches of invitations to participate in the survey were sent randomly to panel members over the months of July and August until the age and gender targets for each municipality were fulfilled. On the whole, the sample is considered to be representative of the population of the West Coast though respondents tended to show slightly lower than average incomes and marginally higher than average education qualifications.Fig. 1Map of study area highlighting the 11 municipalities targeted in the survey




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