University of Oulu

Päivi Haapasaari, Suvi Ignatius, Mia Pihlajamäki, Simo Sarkki, Jouni T. Tuomisto & Alyne Delaney (2019) How to improve governance of a complex social-ecological problem? Dioxins in Baltic salmon and herring, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 21:6, 649-661, DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2019.1661236

How to improve governance of a complex social-ecological problem? : dioxins in Baltic salmon and herring

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Author: Haapasaari, Päivi1,2; Ignatius, Suvi1; Pihlajamäki, Mia1,3,4;
Organizations: 1Fisheries and Environmental Management Group (FEM), Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Innovative Fisheries Management (IFM), Department of Planning, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
3Faculty of Management and Business, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
4Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Group, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6National Institute for Health and Welfare, Kuopio, Finland
7Center for Northeast Asian Studies, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-03-06


This article focuses on the dioxin problem of Baltic herring and salmon fisheries and its governance that is based on natural scientific knowledge. The dioxin problem weakens the perceived quality of Baltic salmon and herring as food and affects the way the catches can be used. This influences negatively the fishing livelihood, the coastal culture, and the availability of the fish for consumers. We explored how the governance of the dioxin problem could be improved, to better address its socio-economic and cultural implications. We identified four main actions: (1) adopt environmental, economic and social sustainability, and food security and safety as shared principles between the environmental, food safety/public health, and fisheries policies, (2) establish collaboration between the environmental, public health, and fisheries sectors at the regional level, (3) enhance interaction around the dioxin problem within the fisheries sector, and (4) support the participation of the Baltic fisheries stakeholders in the EU-level food safety governance. Viewing dioxins in fish not only as a natural scientific problem but as a multidimensional one would enable a wider toolbox of governing instruments to be developed to better address the different dimensions. This would support steps towards collaborative governance and a food system approach.

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Series: Journal of environmental policy & planning
ISSN: 1523-908X
ISSN-E: 1522-7200
ISSN-L: 1523-908X
Volume: 21
Issue: 6
DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2019.1661236
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: This work was supported by BONUS - The joint Baltic Sea Research and Development Programme (Art 185), funded jointly by the EU and the Academy of Finland.
Copyright information: © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.