The transition to aquaponics in support of a circular bioeconomy: policy recommendations to overcome geographical and scale barriers

  • Jay Sterling Gregg (Speaker)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


We explore aquaponics in the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) through policy analysis, a review of the historical context, and semi-structured case study interviews. The semi-structured case study interviews are conducted with relevant actors that have a stake in the future development of aquaponics. These actors include: (1) large scale commercial salmon producers, who are currently moving a larger proportion of the smolt production on land to counter problems with sea lice; (2) small-scale aquaculture farms; (3) small-scale hydroponic vegetable growers; (4) hobby-scale aquaponics enthusiasts, (5) demonstration-scale aquaponic producers; (6) aquaponics support organizations and (7) relevant policy makers. All of these actors have the potential to be key players in the transition to where aquaponics production systems contribute a substantial share of food to regional markets. We analyze the incentive structures and roles of the various actors and potentials for synergies. We also explore possible pathways for the expansion of aquaponics in the near future from a global value chain perspective (Gereffi, 2005).

We find that there remain geographic co-location barriers, as well as barriers related to an unequal production scale by the current regime actors. These issues, along with the dominant institutional legacies from fisheries and agriculture, result in a regulatory landscape in Scandinavian countries that hinder the development and transition to a more sustainably produced food source. We also find the regulatory landscape for aquaponics in respective countries has emerged in reaction to historical precedents in aquaculture and agriculture, and specific legislation on aquaponics has been slow to develop. Aquaponics operations typically must meet disparate sets of regulations. As such, it creates a complex barrier to commercial scaling up and the transition to a more sustainable circular economy. We conclude with specific policy suggestions for aquaponics, but also note larger lessons for the regulatory challenges that occur when the circular economy application attempt to bridge two or more different areas of policies.
Period25 Jun 2019
Event titleInternational Sustainable Transitions Conference 2019
Event typeConference
Conference number11
LocationOttawa, Canada, OntarioShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Sustainability transitions
  • Aquaponics
  • aquaculture
  • Global value chains
  • circular economy
  • Sustainable Food Systems