Stakeholder perceptions of climate change in the context of bivalve aquaculture
Climate change, observed as warming sea surface temperatures, is expected to impact the Eastern coast of Canada at a rate higher than the global average. Changes in marine abiotic conditions will impact the growth and performance of economically important bivalve species, creating an increasingly uncertain future for the bivalve aquaculture industry. Site-selection for new farms, and the management of extant ones could mitigate these potential impacts, but the implementation of this planning process is dependent on stakeholder support and engagement. Recognizing the importance of stakeholder input in management decisions, this research analyzed the perspectives of farmers, researchers, and managers from Nova Scotia (NS) and Prince Edward Island (PEI) on the relationship between climate change and bivalve aquaculture. Stakeholder perspectives were analyzed using a semi-quantitative interview method (Q methodology). These perspectives indicated the need for a higher level of integration both between stakeholder groups, namely farmers and managers, and management tools and climate change. Increased understanding between farmers and managers could be achieved through the use of researchers as knowledge brokers, collaborating and communicating with both groups. Making use of management tools, such as the ecosystem approach to aquaculture, required insurance, and adaptive management, governmental bodies on both a federal and provincial level can act as channels by which uncertainty generated by climate change can be further reduced. In summary, stakeholder perception can be used by marine planners to adapt to these foreseen changes, and to promote the expansion of this industry.