University of Tasmania

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Media and environmental conflict over salmon aquaculture : investigating the local and the transnational

posted on 2023-05-28, 11:28 authored by Cullen-Knox, C
As human pressure on the environment and natural world increases (Geldmann et al., 2014, Jones et al., 2018), conflicts over resources and landscapes have become a part of contemporary political life. Public debate, societal conflict and polarisation occur over the use of common pool natural resources (Colvin et al., 2015, Lucas and Warman, 2018). Some of the greatest contestation over natural resource use focuses on the coastal zone, where a range of interests often diverge regarding use and preservation of resources (Le Heron, 2019). Global environmental change amplifies the complexity of these contestations, with causes and effects transcending local to global scales (Cash, 2006). The overarching aim of the thesis is to investigate and critically analyse how environmental risks are publicly constructed and debated locally and transnationally through processes of media and communications. It considers how environmental conflict is mediatised (Hutchins and Lester, 2015: 337) ‚Äö- that is, where media play a constitutive role in the enactment and experience of these conflicts and political outcomes ‚Äö- and the chain of actions and interactions that can result. This research places environmental risk negotiations at the nexus of science information, community interests, industry expansion and impacts and government decision-making within a critical assessment of media roles, politics and power. It gives active consideration to how discourses work to shape reality and different agendas. The thesis builds upon the overall understanding of the mediatisation of environmental conflict, the politicisation of knowledge and information and the flow of environmental governance and risk discourses at different temporal and spatial scales. The research utilises the case of seafood, specifically Atlantic salmon aquaculture in Tasmania, Australia's southern island state. The case study offered the opportunity to investigate environmental conflict in a context of evident competing politics of the environment, and to further explore the cross-scale dimensions of how these conflicts interact at local, transnational, and international scales. The Tasmanian mediatised conflicts provided the local context for which the research expands to understand transnational flows of environmental risk, with particular attention to major Asian export markets and salmon production in Norway. This identifies narratives that transcend political borders and physical geography and those that differ between local sites of production. In doing so, it explores how mediatised environmental conflicts are placed and manifest within a global community of concern. Because the research aims to examine how environmental risks are constructed publicly at the discursive level, it draws on media analysis, expert interviews, direct observation and peer reviewed literature review. This provides insight into the complex and multi-directional nexus between media, public and policy across time and scale. The thesis expands both empirical and theoretical understanding of how environmental risk is negotiated within local and international communities and across political and cultural borders.


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Copyright 2021 the author Parts of chapter 5 appear to be the equivalent of a pre-print version of an article published as: Cullen-Knox, C., Fleming, A., Lester, L., Ogier, E., 2019. Publicised scrutiny and mediatised environmental conflict: The case of Tasmanian salmon aquaculture, Marine policy, 100, 307-315. The final published version is located in appendix I Parts of chapter 6 appear to be the equivalent of a pre-print version of an article published as: Cullen-Knox, C., Fleming, A., Lester, L., Ogier, E., 2021. Perceiving environmental science, risk and industry regulation in the mediatised vicious cycles of the Tasmanian salmon aquaculture industry, Social epistemology, 35(5), 441-460. The final published version has been removed from appendix II Parts of chapter 7 appear to be the equivalent of a pre-print version of an article published as: Cullen-Knox, C., Fleming, A., Lester, L., and Ogier, E., 2020. Tracing environmental sustainability discourses: an Australia-Asia seafood case study, Frontiers in marine science, 7:176. Copyright Copyright 2020 Cullen-knox, Fleming, Lester and Ogier. The published article is located in appendix III. The article is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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