Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis (Master's)

Department or Program

Earth Sciences

First Advisor

Michael Cox

Second Advisor

Melody Brown Burkins



The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that commercial aquaculture production has outpaced wild fisheries since 2013, and in 2018, aquaculture became the fastest growing food production sector in the world (FAO SOFIA, 2018). Wild fishery landings have not meaningfully increased since the 1980s. As a result, international development organizations and environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) have pitched the industry as a sustainable alternative to wild fisheries and the most promising option for the future of seafood production. Governance and transition scholars, however, are skeptical about if and how the presumed benefits of the fisheries-to-aquaculture will materialize for individuals and resource-dependent coastal communities (Stoll et al., 2019). Furthermore, there is a general lack of congruence between the normative values assigned to transitions and resilience, which may support resistance to this transition even if the benefits should outweigh the costs. Overall, governance and transition scholars, alike, assert that good governance – the future of which I assert can be informed by the past – is needed to support the intended speed of this transition. In the pages to follow, I 1) layout the foundations of governance and transition theory; 2) conduct a systematic literature review of the fisheries governance literature, derive a series of ‘lessons’ from the successes and failures of fisheries governance, and explore how those may be usefully considered to inform the governance of a growing aquaculture industry; 3) apply these insights to the case of aquaculture development in Maine, USA; 4) outline recommendations of future study of the social-ecological landscape of aquaculture growth in Maine.