Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 529–546

Irish fish, Irish people: roles and responsibilities for an emptying ocean


DOI: 10.1007/s10668-012-9396-y

Cite this article as:
Miller, D.D. & Mariani, S. Environ Dev Sustain (2013) 15: 529. doi:10.1007/s10668-012-9396-y


Human decisions shape patterns of seafood resource use. Consequently, it is also these decisions made by actors within seafood industries which ultimately determine the environmental impact of fisheries resource extraction from marine environments. In this study, we investigated the roles and influences of various actors within the Irish seafood industry. Our objectives were to learn more about the working dynamics of the industry and identify possibilities for improvements towards industry sustainability. We employed qualitative research methods including semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participant observation to access information from Irish consumers, retailers, wholesalers, scientists and key industry informants. The diversity of seafood products available within the Irish market is generally low. However, consumers who experiment with trying new varieties of seafood are influenced by dining experiences at restaurants or while travelling abroad as well as through cooking shows or cookbooks. Potential for influence on factors including consumer choice, stocking and sourcing decisions, business management and fisheries policy was found within all levels of the seafood industry, though a sense of responsibility in the context of seafood sustainability was less common. In addition, the absence of shortages within the Irish market due to imports, aquaculture and mislabelling appears to be preventing widespread acceptance about claims of overfishing. It is clear that ultimately, responsible policy decisions and effective enforcement will be needed to improve the overall sustainability of the industry. However, pressure for positive change can come from all actors that prioritise sustainability as the most important objective for future industry operation.


Sustainable seafoodMarine fisheriesIrelandSocial responsibility

Supplementary material

10668_2012_9396_MOESM1_ESM.doc (37 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 37 kb)
10668_2012_9396_MOESM2_ESM.doc (290 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 290 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biology and Environmental ScienceUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Fisheries CentreUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.School of Environment and Life SciencesUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK