Differences in perception of a newly created Marine Park in south-west Western Australia by boat-based recreational fishers and the broader community
Community acceptance of Marine Parks is widely acknowledged as being critical for success. Where community stewardship and voluntary compliance have been achieved, there are fewer issues with non-compliance of zoning regulations. Probability-based surveys that are representative of the wider community can improve understanding of community perceptions prior to and following establishment of Marine Parks. Understanding attitudes towards newly created Marine Parks among user groups provides valuable information for the design of education and engagement programs, while also creating a benchmark to compare changes over time. A survey of community perceptions and awareness regarding the recently created Ngari Capes Marine Park in south-west Western Australia was measured via a randomised telephone survey of local and non-local boat-based recreational fishers; and local residents (including non-fishers and shore/boat fishers). This survey also evaluated other recreational uses of the park and how these activities were valued, knowledge of Marine Park zones, and how information about Marine Parks was being accessed. Participation in recreational fishing within Ngari Capes was above average and a supportive attitude towards the park was apparent. Boat-based recreational fishers displayed a higher degree of concern about fishing restrictions compared to local residents, but overall were supportive of the Marine Park. Across all user groups there was low awareness of the Ngari Capes Marine Park and poor understanding of Marine Parks. A lack of clarity regarding the likely benefits of the Ngari Capes Marine Park was apparent, implying a need to improve public communication and community engagement.