New technologies have increasingly featured in environmental conservation conflicts. We examined the deployment of imaging devices such as sonar equipment and cameras to survey the Fal estuary in Cornwall, UK. Due to heavy use of these waters, there have been several disputes coalescing around protected marine features, including the estuary’s rare maerl beds. A comparison of two cases, scallop dredging and docks development, showed technical instruments being deployed to produce information about the marine environment as evidence to inform decision-making. The use of imaging devices stimulated political action and was regarded as a move away from emotion-based decision-making towards desired objectivity. Simultaneously, however, the process of deploying these devices was challenged and there was recognition that the resultant information could be used to construct the estuary as a politically charged space. Thus, rather than clarifying and resolving contentious issues, technological interventions generated new baselines for knowledge contestation and amplified ongoing battles for credibility and authority.
- Knowledge contestation
- Digital imaging
- Technologies for nature conservation
- Evidence production
- Fal River, Cornwall, UK