Bacher, Kathrin, Ana Gordoa, & Eirik Mikkelsen (2014). Stakeholders’ perceptions of marine fish farming in Catalonia (Spain): A Q-methodology approach. Aquaculture, 424, 78-85. (doi: (Link:

Abstract: Marine aquaculture production is becoming increasingly important to meet global seafood demands. Conversely, there are concerns about potential environmental impacts, especially associated with marine fish farming, and the access to and use of coastal resources. While only a small number of studies on social acceptability of fish farming exist, understanding the range of perceptions among social groups is a key challenge for successful management of aquaculture, and thus for sustainable development. The case study presented here uses the Q-methodology to explore the perceptions of five aquaculture-related key stakeholder groups (NGOs, local fishermen, fish farming industry, scientists and regional administration) towards marine fish aquaculture in Catalonia (NE Spain). The 30 participants were asked to sort 39 statements about environmental, social and economic aspects of marine fish farming, on a scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The factor analysis identified four distinct factors, each representing a different perception. While Perception 1 regards fish farming as an activity with important socio-economic benefits and low environmental costs, Perception 2 gives highest importance to environmental concerns. Perception 3 represents a more balanced view, valuing the socio-economic benefits and expressing moderate concern about environmental impacts, whereas Perception 4 focuses mainly on economic aspects. Interestingly, the four perceptions were represented by various groups of stakeholders and not all respondents from the same sector shared the same perception. This study contributes to the scarce scientific information on social research on aquaculture, revealing limitations, challenges, and opportunities of the industry.

Kathrin Bacher <> is with Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Blanes (CEAB-CSIC), Blanes, Spain.

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