Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Avi Brisman

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Kishonna L. Gray

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


Using the Marine Aquarium Fish Trade as a case study, I propose an integrated theoretical framework in green criminology that strengthens the political economic "treadmill of production" theory (see Lynch et al., 2013) by incorporating an analysis of the "cultural grease" that ensures the treadmill’s smooth operation. Choosing fish as a subject matter, though, requires challenging the "thoroughgoing speciesism" (Beirne, 1999) inherent in the mammalian-centric animal abuse literature. To do this I draw from research in marine biology and animal cognition to philosophically establish that fish are moral agents, "subjects-of-a-life" (Regan, 1983) on par with mammals and thus worthy of more in-depth consideration within the animal abuse literature. I move from this philosophical argument to laying out my integrated treadmill of production/green-cultural criminological model. Starting with the cultural grease that keeps the treadmill turning, I outline the ideological work of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and how, through its public aquariums and organizational behavior, it and it’s member aquariums facilitate cultural narratives and silences conducive to anthropocentric capitalism and the trade in marine fish. Then I look at the destruction wrought by the treadmill itself, outlining the specific instances and macro-patterns of environmental destruction these narratives facilitate along the entire treadmill of production: from the widespread destruction of coral reef habitats in Southeast Asia, to harm induced by transportation, to global warming. Resulting, ultimately, in mass marine-theriocide.