Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being used as conservation tools in the marine environment. Success of MPAs depends upon sound scientific design and societal support. Studies that have assessed societal preferences for temperate MPAs have generally done it without considering the existence of discrete groups of opinion within society and have largely considered offshore and deep-sea areas. This study quantifies societal preferences and economic support for coastal MPAs in Wales (UK) and assesses the presence of distinct groups of preference for MPA management, through a latent class choice experiment approach. Results show a general support for the protection of the marine environment in the form of MPAs and that society is willing to bear the costs derived from conservation. Despite a general opposition toward MPAs where human activities are completely excluded, there is some indication that three classes of preferences within society can be established regarding the management of potentially sea-floor damaging activities. This type of approach allows for the distinction between those respondents with positive preferences for particular types of management from those who experience disutility. We conclude that insights from these types of analyses can be used by policy-makers to identify those MPA designs and management combinations most likely to be supported by particular sectors of society.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
The targeting of spawning aggregations is one of the most significant pressures facing coral reef ecosystems. The use of seasonal closures has been advanced for protecting aggregating fisheries for which managers have limited information on the location and timing of their reproductive events; however, few studies have examined the performance of these types of closures. This study assesses the perceptions of 150 fishers regarding the performance of seasonal closures in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Our results show that most fishers perceived that seasonal closures are effective fishery management measures. Across the six seasonal closures examined, fishers reported that these closures protected spawning aggregations and, to a lesser degree, increased fish abundance. These measures, however, did not always improve fishers' livelihoods nor result in their support for the seasonal closures. The loss of resource and market access during periods of high consumer demand and overlapping seasonal closures were the main causes of financial distress.
Fishers indicated that the performance of the seasonal closures could be improved by increasing investments in monitoring, control, and surveillance capabilities, and adjusting their timing to accommodate economic and local ecological considerations. Fishers argued that revisions were necessary because some species spawned year-round or outside closure windows. Some fishers also called for replacing seasonal closures with alternative management measures (e.g., area-time closures, marine protected areas, gear restrictions), conducting additional scientific research, and improving fisher education. This work underscores that beliefs about conservation and livelihood outcomes are closely linked to the quality of management, the importance of conducting periodic assessments, and engaging fishers in decision-making to increase accountability, transparency, and support for management interventions.
Incorporating the perception and attitudes of key stakeholders into conservation management can contribute to biodiversity conservation and has the potential to resolve human-wildlife conflicts. To this end, there is scope to enhance conservation outcomes by improving the capture and analysis of stakeholders perceptions and translating these into the management decision making process. Here, an ecosystem services approach (i.e. the benefits people obtain from nature) is used to assess the societal benefits derived from a specialized and rare behavior exhibited by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus gephyreus) that cooperatively forage with artisanal fishers in Laguna, southern Brazil. From interviews, we identified ecosystem services based on the perception of artisanal fishers who take part in this interaction. The perceived benefits of cooperative fishing with dolphins, identified from these interviews, were grouped into eight ecosystem services assigned into cultural (n = 7) and provisioning (n = 1) related services. The results showed that experienced fishers were more likely to identify multiple and diverse ecosystem services, while fishers exposed to tourists tended to focus on tourism and recreation leisure as benefits from fishing with dolphins. Our findings show that the human component is a key element in this system and support the proposal that future conservation decisions and management plans of Laguna's bottlenose dolphins should involve artisanal fishers to be more effective. Our findings indicate that an ecosystem services approach could help decision-makers to better integrate social, economic and cultural aspects of human-wildlife interactions into conservation and management strategies for wildlife in a wider context.
As changes in climate, governance, and organization reshape the dynamics of small-scale fisheries around the globe, the persistence of many local livelihoods appears contingent upon the ability of resource users to respond and adapt. Though significant scholarship has considered the limiting roles of resources and infrastructure, recent research has highlighted the importance of local learning and knowledge. Rather than being driven by forces exogenous to local communities, it is increasingly recognized that adaptation may be limited by perceptions and processes within them. Here, we explore knowledge production and adaptive response within a small-scale fishery in the central Gulf of California following system perturbation. Using mixed methods from the natural and social sciences, we (1) identify local drivers of social-ecological change, (2) document knowledge concerning their causes and consequences across a diverse group of small-scale fishermen, and (3) identify patterns of intracultural agreement and disagreement associated with divergent adaptive response. Results indicate that perceptions of social-ecological change were heterogeneous and that gear ownership and target species diversification were critical factors in determining the cultural models through which fishermen understood and responded to changes in the resource system. Unlike other user groups, owner-operator fishermen pursuing generalist livelihood strategies held consensus beliefs regarding changes to system structure and function and demonstrated increased ability to modify fishing tactics with the best practices for sustainable use. Our findings highlight how local knowledge can be used to assess the proximate impacts of external drivers of change and provide insight into the cultural models influencing in situ decision-making and adaptive response within modern fishery systems.
Natural resource rules exist to control resources and the people that interact with them. These rules often fail because people do not comply with them. Decisions to comply with natural resource rules often are based on attitudes about legitimacy of rules and the perceived risks of breaking rules. Trust in agencies promulgating rules in part may determine perceptions of legitimacy of the rule, and in turn depends on individuals’ trust in different agency actors. The purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between fishing rule noncompliance and trust in scientists, a key group within management agencies. We interviewed 41 individuals in one rural fishing community in the Brazilian Pantanal from April to August, 2016, to assess (1) noncompliance rates, (2) noncompliance-related attitudes, and (3) the relationship between trust in scientists and noncompliance decisions in the region. We found that among study participants, noncompliance was common and overt. Trust in scientists performing research in the region was the best predictor of noncompliance rate with a fishing rule (nonparametric rank correlation ρ = -0.717; Probit model pseudo-R2 = 0.241). Baseline data from this research may help inform future interventions to minimize IUU fishing and protect the Pantanal fishery. Although our results are specific to one community in the Pantanal, trust in scientists is potentially an important factor for compliance decisions in similar situations around the world. These results build not only on compliance theory but also speak to the important role that many scientists play in rural areas where they conduct their research.
This paper compares the perceptions of various actors who come from Maio island's (Cape Verde) small-scale fishing community or are working on or studying its marine management. The research analyses environmental governance perceptions (desired governance) in relation to official (de jure) governance and effective (de facto) governance. It uses the Actor in 4 Dimensions method (including adapted individual interviews on Maio's social-ecological system) to produce graphical environmental footprints that portray a diversity of actors' and groups' perceptions. Footprint results show a clear general tendency for a strong prominence of the “cooperation” (social profile) and “cohabitation” (environmental profile) dimensions, compared with the much lighter stamps of their opposite “conflict” and “domination” dimensions. It appears that although most actors wish to preserve Maio's marine environment, some hope for more economic development while others wish to preserve their island's renowned quiet. Also, many actors feel that despite being included in some territorial discussions, they are not in a position to decide on policies that strongly affect them such as fishing agreements and tourism development. This perceived inability to influence island and community development combined with larger-scale policies that override local interests to various extents are both influenced by path dependence. A redirection of policies and actions in favor of island communities' subsistence and autonomy (empowerment and extensive participative governance) could reverse the harmful “external forces cascade” effects solely if power delegation is accompanied by sufficient economic and human means and is not impaired by larger-scale policies and activities.
The transformation of coral reefs has profound implications for millions of people. However, the interactive effects of changing reefs and fishing remain poorly resolved. We combine underwater surveys (271 000 fishes), catch data (18 000 fishes), and household surveys (351 households) to evaluate how reef fishes and fishers in Moorea, French Polynesia responded to a landscape-scale loss of coral caused by sequential disturbances (a crown-of-thorns sea star outbreak followed by a category 4 cyclone). Although local communities were aware of the disturbances, less than 20% of households reported altering what fishes they caught or ate. This contrasts with substantial changes in the taxonomic composition in the catch data that mirrored changes in fish communities observed on the reef. Our findings highlight that resource users and scientists may have very different interpretations of what constitutes ‘change’ in these highly dynamic social–ecological systems, with broad implications for successful co-management of coral reef fisheries.
Although Taiwan has taken conservation measures for coastal and offshore fishery resources in recent years, the effectiveness of resources rebuilding is unclear. Many initiatives, such as marine protected areas (MPAs), are frequently opposed by fishermen. This research reviewed management measures and interviewed 313 fishermen by purposive stratification and snowball sampling. Data were analyzed by fishery, age, and vessel size to address the attitudes and perceptions of fishermen toward twelve fisheries management measures. Descriptive statistics, as well as chi-squared tests and independent t-tests, were used for basic analysis and differences comparison between groups. The results showed that illegal fishing vesselsfrom China (71%), overfishing (69.5%), and ghost fishing (64%) are considered as major threats to Taiwan marine resources. The measures from voyage data recorders, larval anchovy, precious coral, and shark management result in higher satisfaction because of strict monitoring. The satisfaction measures for three net-type measures, i.e., trawler area closure, torch-light limitation, and gillnet limitation, were low. Line-type and small-scale vessel fishermen are more concerned with “small mesh size” and “ghost fishing”. Net-type, large-scale vessels and young fishermen were concerned about “climate change” and “inappropriate measures”. In conclusion, the priorities are to (1) establish a comprehensive scientific research framework; (2) strengthen enforcement to ensure resources rebuilding, especially for large-scale net fisheries; (3) promote public awareness and build communication between stakeholders to obtain support; and (4) communicate among policymakers and fishermen to increase mutual understanding.
Understanding the social dimensions of marine and coastal conservation is considered integral to better inform governance and management actions. Perceptions are recognized as a way to understand these dimensions, which can evidence limitations of current efforts, while facilitating more informed policy-making and provide a basis for more robust management actions. Following a qualitative and case study approach, this paper utilizes stakeholder interviews to explore the perceptions on marine ecosystems and current management actions that include marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Central American country of Guatemala. Results identify similarities and contrasts in the perception of marine conservation and MPAs, where weak local governments and limited community participation in the decision-making process can be considered the underlying problems. Recommendations are made which can capitalize upon multi-level improvements that need to integrate all stakeholder groups. Improvements should also consider the regional setting and must reflect Guatemala’s historical and social context. This paper highlights that stakeholder perceptions need a central role to further improve the quality of governance in coastal Guatemala. Recommendations can further assist other developing countries facing similar challenges.
This study primarily attempts to understand people's beliefs toward marine protected areas considering as a case study the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades in Greece in order to achieve its sustainability. Specifically, it aims to identify people's opinion about the utility of the park investigating also their beliefs in relation to socioeconomic characteristics. For this reason, a face‐to‐face survey of 200 randomly selected residents and visitors of the area was carried out. The research was structured according to the principles of the contingent valuation method. According to the empirical findings, the majority of respondents recognized the contribution of the park to preserve the monk seal and the natural environment. Moreover, they want the maintenance of the park and more specialized protection measures in the area.