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Food Sovereignty and Community Development: Shellfish Aquaculture in the Nanwakolas First Nations

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Aquaculture is promoted by governments and industry as a solution to the impending crisis of a growing and hungry world population, although technological solutions to food shortages have historically had social consequences. In partnership with the Nanwakolas Council, we researched the social and economic impacts of land-based aquaculture development with a focus on a potential shellfish hatchery. The two aims of the project were 1) to develop a Sustainability Assessment tool that the community could use to assess such projects and 2) to investigate the likely impacts of a potential shellfish hatchery in relation to food systems. First, we found that the Nanwakolas’ existing Community Wellbeing Wheel could be developed into a Sustainability Assessment framework by testing it with a community dialogue about a potential shellfish hatchery. We identified gaps in the first iteration of the framework as recommended improvements in several sustainability dimensions, along with the proposed new sustainability dimension of Community Capacity. Next, we explored a shellfish hatchery from the perspective of food sovereignty using the Nyéléni conference principles as an analytical framework to analyze interview and dialogue responses. We isolated some of the strengths and weaknesses of a shellfish hatchery for Nanwakolas food sovereignty, particularly highlighting ways in which this non-traditional method of food production might build sovereignty and resource governance capacity. Additionally, our results indicate that a discussion between consumption vs. commodification of community food resources over-simplifies the possible paths to food sovereignty, as defining production can itself help build food sovereignty. Lastly, we found Community Capacity to be an underlying limit to food sovereignty, but also something that the Community Wellbeing Wheel could specifically address through future community dialogue.
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