Each fisherman is different: Taking the environmental perception of small-scale fishermen into account to manage marine protected areas
One of the reasons for the failure of some Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is the lack of respect for their boundaries and regulations, which intensifies the need to assess the attitudes of stakeholders affected by MPAs. To this end, it is necessary to know the perception and behavior of resource users in these areas in relation to the management process. This study addressed the perception of different groups of fishermen in three MPAs that allow sustainable use of resources on the Brazilian northeastern coast. The perception analysis was based on four aspects: biodiversity conservation, flexibility and adaptability of fishermen, participation in management and opinions about the MPA. The interviewed fishermen (n=100) were classified into natives or immigrants,≥than 40 years old or <40, predominant use of selective or nonselective fishing gear and part or full time fishermen. The results showed that younger fishermen and the ones who use selective fishing gear presented a more conservation prone perception; nonselective fishermen and part-time fishermen were more flexible and adaptable to changes; and younger fishermen tended to agree more with the establishment of the MPAs. Taking these differences in perceptions among fishermen into account could serve as a basis for improvements in the management and conservation of fishing resources, besides helping predict possible future behavior due to changes in management policies.