Sustainable management of coastal areas: Salmon farm locations and environmental status (LOCATION)

This project studies the complex decision-making system for localization of aquaculture in Norwegian coastal areas, and how decisions on salmon farm location align with goals of enhanced environmental sustainability.

The project will produce novel knowledge on how political, socio-economic, institutional, and legal factors cause regional variation in decision-making outcomes, and explain variation in alignment between environmental sustainability and localization decisions across municipalities and county regions. To pursue this objective, the project combines largescale quantitative mapping of the environmental status of local salmon farming areas with a selection of in-depth, qualitative, and comparative case studies of localization decisions.

First, the project will conduct a thorough spatial mapping of environmental status and the development of aquaculture sites within counties. We merge the data and utilize geographical information system software to construct an extensive map portal for efficient analysis and assessment.

Second, it engages in legal analysis of how the complex decision-making system for localization affects outcomes.

Third, based on the mapping of environmental status and sites, we select 25 case-studies (five from each of the five larger coastal counties) for in-depth analysis.

Here, we approach our research questions through an analytical framework based on a multi-level governance approach. We first examine three types of decisions on localization, studying variation within and between counties and municipalities. Second, we examine and explain alignment between localization decisions and environmental status, to advance knowledge on how the fragmented, multi-level and multi-sectoral decision-making system for aquaculture localization in Norway may hamper or promote sustainability goals. Against this background, we consider the implications of these insights for achieving environmentally sustainable use and management of coastal areas.

Project period: 2023-2027




  • Vestland County
  • Alta Municipality
  • Frøya Municipality
  • The Norwegian Food safety Authority
  • Grieg Seafood
  • Naturvernforbundet
  • Nofima


  • The Research Council of Norway