Social influence modelling demonstrates that strategic communication and depoliticization reduces conflict in aquaculture

C. M. Condie*, E. A. Fulton, K. A. Alexander, J. Vince, M. Haward, S. A. Condie

*Corresponding author for this work

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Conflict between stakeholder groups around social and environmental issues can fragment communities and disrupt development. For the past decade, salmon farming has globally been one of the most contentious issues within the aquaculture sector. Attempts to mitigate these conflicts have often been counterproductive due to high levels of distrust across stakeholder groups. A lower risk approach is to evaluate strategy options within a virtual socio-ecological system prior to real-world implementation. Using the Tasmanian salmon debate as a case study, this paper describes results from a social influence model that for the first time represents key stakeholder groups. This approach has allowed the responses of different stakeholders and their contribution to overall conflict to be explored and assessed under alternative communication strategies. Reductions in community conflict were achieved through improved marine literacy, collaborative learning amongst key stakeholder groups, and broad dissemination of information relating to industry performance on social and environmental issues. Model results further demonstrate that the perceived legitimacy of such initiatives depends on depoliticising the debate to address issues around regulatory capture. While applied here to salmon aquaculture, the modelling approach and lessons on effective communication strategies are likely to be relevant to a broad range of socio-ecological conflicts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106211
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date21 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2024


  • Aquaculture
  • Communication
  • Marine policy
  • Salmon
  • Social influence modelling
  • Stakeholder group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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