Considering the importance of metaphors for marine conservation

Last modified: 
January 16, 2019 - 11:28am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: In Press
Authors: Alasdair Neilson
Journal title: Marine Policy
ISSN: 0308597X

This paper seeks to highlight the importance of metaphors for marine conservation and policy. It argues that the manner in which the oceans are perceived, often as an alien landscape, can limit the way language is utilised in marine conservation efforts. This limitation can produce unhelpful environmental metaphors that, instead of acting as catalysts for action, produce negative and reactionary responses. It illustrates this point through the example of what has become known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch.’ It postulates that if there is a disconnect between the many complex environmental issues facing the world's oceans and the way they are perceived, then more focus should be placed on developing pre-determined culturally embedded metaphors, which can conjure relatable imagery, but that are also rooted in scientific evidence. It recommends that, in an extension to existing public perception research (PPR) on how different communities value the ocean environment, there is room for shared metaphors of the oceanic environment to be developed that can help raise awareness within a particular cultural setting.

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