An exploratory study of Edinburgh chefs’ interpretations and operationalisations of sustainability in relation to ﬁsh
Despite the fact that the concept of sustainability is a concern both on an international and individual level, marine ecosystems are under great pressure from the Global fishing industry. This study explores the link between interpretation and operationalisation of the concept in relation to fish, through semi-structured interviews with 9 sustainability-committed Edinburgh based restaurant chefs. In doing so, it illustrates the context the chefs are situated within; a reality of conflicting information, worldviews, value systems, and interests. Through the example of ‘seasonal fish’ it shows how the difficulties of evaluating the environmental impact of fish drive the chefs to rely on the supply chain. In doing so, they outsource their responsibilities, and embrace an interpretation of sustainability which is situated within a ‘mechanical’ worldview and anthropocentric value system. This worldview/value system is problematic from a sustainability perspective. In this study, this approach is contrasted with a ‘complexity’ worldview, and an ecocentric value system. It argues that such approach is more adept for achieving a sustainable fishing industry. In doing so, it highlights the polysemic and political nature of the concept. The study concludes with calling for more criticality towards the supply chain. It also calls for a better and clearer definition of both sustainability and ‘sustainable fish’; a definition which does not allow socioeconomic interest to be placed above environmental protection. Lastly, it argues that the term ‘seasonal’ in the context of fish is alluring and counterproductive for sustainability, and that another term should be introduced and adopted.