Exploring Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument
With the increase in development of large marine protected areas (LMPAs) worldwide, there have been calls from social scientists to gather better empirical information about the human dimensions of LMPAs. Of the social research done on LMPAs to date, most has focused on the perceptions of stakeholders closely connected to their implementation, and little research has explored the general public's response. This paper presents the results of a phone survey conducted in the US territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to assess residents' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument—a LMPA designated offshore in 2009. The survey was administered in 2012 to 500 randomly-selected residents from each territory. Findings suggest: (1) public awareness of the Monument prior to the survey was low; (2) residents generally supported designation of the Monument; (3) most residents did not believe that the Monument would affect them or their community; and (4) knowledge and perceptions of the Monument varied between fishing and non-fishing households. This research illustrates that awareness and views differ between stakeholders and those of the general public, which should be used to inform social research on LMPAs and outreach for LMPA managers.