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Pangasius at risk - Governance in farming and processing, and the role of different capital

The environmental impact of Vietnamese Pangasius production (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus and Pangasianodon bocourti) has been recently discussed as failing to comply with standards of sustainability, caused ostensibly by deficiencies in governance, which are driven by internal and external state mechanisms. The topics of Pangasius production and its sustainability have been approached by various scholars, who have questioned the reliability of discussions on sustainability in European retail industries as a means of protectionism (Bush and Duijf 2011). A bottom-up research approach will be applied to first of all elaborate on the perspectives of Vietnamese (potential) users on top-down governance mechanisms, and then secondly to identify further how institutions of governance on different scales are missing. This method will help to draw a more holistic picture and thus create a better understanding of controversies surrounding the sustainability of Pangasius production. The paper is based on a literature review on governance mechanisms in the Vietnamese Pangasius sector, as well as empirical research, in particular semistructured interviews conducted at Pangasius farming and processing sites in Can Tho City, Vietnam. Using BOURDIEU´s theoretical approach of “forms of capital” (theory of practice), the actions of actors in Pangasius sector are analysed and understood based on a combination of economic, social and cultural capital. The research thus draws attention to an already existing focus on economic aspects in the Vietnamese Pangasius sector, but goes further by showing that especially social capital and local institutions constitute important variables concerning the implementation and observance of governance mechanisms. These mechanisms can both compensate and create economic constraints and need to be considered in order to achieve sustainability in the Vietnamese Pangasius sector.


Sven Genschick


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