Scepticism and perceived self-efficacy influence fishers’ low risk perceptions of climate change
Climate change is impacting fisheries globally, posing both risks and opportunities to those dependent on marine resources. Understanding how fishers perceive climate change, and what factors shape these perceptions, can provide insights into behavioural intentions and support required for climate change focused strategies and management. This study interviewed demersal fishers from a south-west UK fishing port to explore: 1) the future risks fishers identified that may affect their business and wider industry; 2) fishers’ beliefs and risk perceptions relating to climate change; and 3) the factors influencing these perceptions. Fishers identified a number of environmental, socio-economic and fisheries governance risks but climate change was rarely mentioned. While fishers overall had low risk perceptions of climate change, these perceptions were heterogeneous across the sample. Climate change scepticism and a high perceived self-efficacy to adapt to climate change were associated with lower risk perceptions. These findings provide new insights into how fishers perceive climate change and, importantly, greater understanding of the possible drivers of such perceptions. Findings suggest that undertaking climate-awareness raising initiatives in isolation to support adaptation strategies could be limited in success. Instead, wider focus should be applied to removing barriers to adaptation, managing wider risks and incorporating fishers into decision making to effectively support and motivate fishers’ adaptation.