Knowledge of people's understanding of environmental problems is vital for the effective implementation of the ecosystem approach to marine management. This is especially relevant when conservation goals are aimed at ecosystems in the deep-sea that are remote to the consciousness of most people. This study explores public perceptions of the deep-sea environment among the Scottish and Norwegian public. It further analyses the relationships between respondents' pro-environmental concerns toward the marine environment and personal characteristics using a multiple indicators multiple causes model. The results show that public knowledge of the deep-sea environment is low for Scottish and moderate for Norwegians. Awareness of cold-water corals was high for the Lofoten case study area amongst the Norwegian public and low for the Mingulay reef complex in the Scottish case. These differences might arise because Norway is known to host the world's largest cold-water corals in the Lofoten area; a fact that has been well-publicized. We find that most people think changes in the deep-sea have at least some effect on them. On average, the public perceive the deep-sea condition to be at most “fairly good” but are dissatisfied with the management of it with approximately only one third or less thinking it is well-managed. Generally, the public perception from both countries show ecocentric attitudes toward the marine environment implying that they recognize the value of ecosystem services, the current ecological crisis and the need for sustainable management.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a multiple-use marine protected area with a history of tension between management entities and local stakeholders. At the root of the issues are differences in the definition of “successful management” between these two stakeholder groups and recent administrative vacancies within the Sanctuary’s management staff have made it difficult for the Sanctuary to update its management plan. This study surveyed two primary stakeholder groups in the Florida Keys in order to gain understanding of their perceptions of successful management. A comprehensive intercept survey detailing various management objectives was presented to participants in person using tablets and targeted emails over a period of five months. Results found that residency status was not the primary parameter influencing perception of management success, and that rather industry affiliation was strongly linked with views on management success. Significant differences between residents and visitors did exist when perception of threats to the Sanctuary was analyzed, indicating that those groups could benefit from targeted outreach and education ahead of changes to the management plan of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Coastal marine environments provide livelihoods as billions of people around the world depend greatly on sustainability efforts in the Blue Economy. In this study, we investigated how stakeholders from important Blue Economy sectors along the German North Sea coast perceive the impacts of climate change on their daily work life and the growth of the Blue Economy. In a two-stage approach we first conducted two stakeholder workshops with representatives from the regional sea food sector, science, NGOs and local authorities, in order to identify important issues linked to climate change affecting environment, society, economy and policy. In the second stage, we conducted semi-structured interviews with key knowledge holders from the Blue Economy, to evaluate and validate the most important issues identified during the first stage, and the impacts on the respective sectors. The workshop participants identified perceptible effects of climate change on their marine environment. Early career scientists showed that they possess a clear focus on measures for climate change adaptation, transdisciplinary approaches and knowledge transfer. The interviews revealed that the climate change effects could be perceived as both negative and positive, depending on the sector. Other issues, especially political decisions and developments are perceived to have a greater immediate impact on the Blue Economy than the slow progress of climate change effects. Additionally, increased human activities, in the form of new or intensified uses like marine renewable energy generation, have a greater influence and lead to conflicts between the Blue Economy sectors. Our study showed that economic and societal stakeholders in Germanys North Sea region are aware of climate change and already perceive its effects on their businesses. Synergies and conflicts between the sectors and political decisions might influence sustainable growth of the Blue Economy in highly contested regions, such as the North Sea basin, much stronger than the effects of climate change. This calls for a more flexible and adaptive approach to policymaking, taking into account the changing environmental, social and economic realities.
Understanding the factors influencing community acceptance of renewable energy projects such as offshore wind farms is important for achieving a transition to low carbon energy sources. However, to date community acceptance research has concentrated on responses to actual proposals, seeking to explain local objections. ‘Upstream’ research that investigates the ‘place-technology fit’ of a potential renewable energy project before it is proposed is scarce, yet can inform technology deployment by taking local knowledge and preferences into account. We address this gap in a study conducted in Guernsey, Channel Islands. Data was collected using a survey (n = 468) co-designed with island policy makers presenting technical, economic and locational details of a potential offshore wind project. Results show that acceptance of the same project design differed significantly across alternative development locations. Regression analyses compared the roles of personal, context and project-related factors in explaining acceptance for each site. Support for using wind energy for local electricity supply was the most important predictor of acceptance, and this variable mediated the relationship between island energy security and community acceptance. We conclude that place matters for community acceptance and that security and autonomy are co-benefits of local renewable energy projects that deserve further research.
A key conservation strategy to protect and manage marine biodiversity is the implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs). The level of protection from human activities offered to biodiversity by MPAs is not uniform but varies according to the type of MPA, as well as by jurisdiction. This diversity in the activities permitted within MPAs means that reporting total area of marine protection does not reflect the level of protection offered to biodiversity. As such, there is the potential for public confusion surrounding what is permitted or prevented within any one MPA. Therefore, it is critical to determine the degree to which the public understands the activities permitted within MPAs, and how this accords with the actual protection offered to biodiversity. To do this, an anonymous survey was conducted to assess the general knowledge about the protection offered by Australian MPAs and, specifically, the activities permitted or prohibited within MPA boundaries. The overwhelming majority of respondents (63%) believe that Australia's MPA system restricts fishing, when this is only true for 25% of the total area protected. While the activities permitted within MPAs vary, the broad pattern remains that respondents overestimate the degree to which MPAs within their state of origin prevent extractive uses. This study suggests that there is a significant gap in the public understanding of marine conservation issues in Australia, highlighting the need for an explicit conversation between policymakers, scientists and the public about whether current levels of marine protection align with public expectations.
This study explored public perceptions of the marine environment in three coastal communities in Greece and further investigated intentions to adopt behaviors that contribute to marine conservation. We used the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to study the psychological determinants of behavioral intentions. The findings indicated that respondents have positive attitudes, moderate knowledge of marine issues, and they value the marine environment for the multiple ecosystem services that it provides. Litter and pollution from industry were considered as the most important marine threats, followed by fishing and farming. Participants suggested that informing the public and giving prominence to environmental education can contribute to marine conservation efforts. They felt that research centers and scientific community were more competent than governmental authorities and the private sector concerning the management and protection of the marine environment. Intention to adopt environmental behaviors was influenced by normative considerations, attitudes toward marine biodiversity and perceived behavioral control beliefs. The results may: 1) help inform policymakers to improve marine resource management towards a more sustainable relationship between people and the sea; 2) support the development of marine strategies that fit the social preferences, needs, and priorities to increase the likelihood of public support; and 3) support marine spatial planning efforts to uncover the intrinsic complexity of societal interactions with the marine environment. The findings further support policymakers that wish to promote behavior change through communication strategies that deliver environmental messages that focus on enhancing normative considerations, behavioral control beliefs, and corresponding attitudes.
Eco-engineering and the installation of green infrastructure such as artificial floating islands (AFIs), are novel techniques used to support biodiversity. The European Convention on Biological Diversity highlighted the development of green infrastructure as a key method of enhancement in degraded habitats. Research specifically on AFIs in marine environments has largely focused on their ecological functioning role and engineering outcomes, with little consideration for the social benefits or concerns. The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of public perception of coastal habitat loss in the UK and AFIs as a method of habitat creation in coastal environments. This was achieved via a survey, consisting of six closed and two open questions. Of the 200 respondents, 94.5% were concerned about the loss of coastal habitats in the UK, but less than a third were aware of habitat restoration or creation projects in their area of residence. There was a positive correlation between proximity of residency to the coast and knowledge of habitat restoration or creation projects. The majority of the respondents understood the ecological functioning role of AFIs and 62% would preferably want successful plant growth and avian species utilising the AFI. Nearly a third of the respondents had concerns about AFI installations, such as the degradation of the plastic matrix, long term maintenance and disturbance of native species. Despite 90.9% of the respondents supporting the installation of AFIs, the concerns of the public must be addressed during the planning stages of any habitat creation project.
The recovery of California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) populations is an environmental success story, but it has created new challenges given their interactions with sport fisherman. Economic losses to the Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel (CPFV) stems both from the loss of fish, as well as the costs of fuel and time spent traveling to new fishing areas to avoid pinnipeds. Management solutions require a firm understanding of the public's perceptions of an issue. To address this shortcoming, we surveyed recreational anglers' perceptions of California sea lions and conducted a content analysis of media coverage of California sea lions in Southern Californian newspapers. We found that as anglers' knowledge of California sea lions increased, their subjective knowledge of the Marine Mammal Protection Act increased as well and they were less likely to advocate the use of lethal removal to manage sea lion issues. Avid fishers were more likely to consider shooting all sea lions as acceptable, and less likely to view controls to restrict human activity from sea lion areas as favorable. Anglers that expressed negative sentiments after an interaction with sea lions while fishing were more likely to view punishing the sea lion favorably, but less likely to view exposing the sea lions to pain as favorable. Our content analysis showed that most articles were about tourism and entertainment and the majority of articles focused on negative effects to sea lions. The media's framing might obscure the successful recovery of California sea lions and flame growing management concerns with stakeholders like anglers, dock workers, and marina occupants. Our survey showed that among stakeholders, increased understanding of the animals increased understanding of the regulatory context of their recovery and repellents as a socially acceptable means of managing the conflict. Thus, we have shown that knowledge among the public and stakeholders will enhance management efforts. Conservation management professionals can influence public attitudes by interacting with the media as well as using communications strategies that highlight the ecological mechanisms behind the conflict as well as the management actions.
To determine the relationship between the intent of owners of homes located near sea turtle nesting beaches in the state of Florida to engage in coastal conservation easements (CCE), the theory of planned behavior (TPB), environmental identity (EI) and relevant demographics were analyzed. As CCEs are a novel application of a proven conservation tool, a statewide survey was administered to 1274 property owners living within a mile of a protected section of sea turtle nesting habitat (e.g. state park, preserve, wildlife refuge). Multiple linear regression showed coastal property owners were more likely to engage with a CCE if they believed they had the ability and opportunity, held positive attitudes about entering into a CCE, and identified more favorably with potential CCE motivators for property owners. These motivators include receiving assistance from a conservation organization to manage their beachfront land; conserving beach habitat; obtaining annual tax deductions; and trusting the organization administering a CCE. Knowing these motivators and demographics of coastal property owners can help aid coastal land conservationists in crafting strategies to conserve sea turtle nesting beaches.
Young men in coastal Tanzania are often blamed for damaging marine habitats by engaging in unsustainable and destructive fishing practices, including dynamite fishing, but their perceptions have not been sufficiently documented. While marine scientists, international environmental NGOs, and activists have called attention to the destructive fishing practices’ devastating impacts, insights into the contextual factors that motivate those who engage in dynamite fishing are limited. Additionally, risk perceptions and concerns regarding the environmental impact and dangers of dynamite fishing among the youth are also understudied. This paper provides ethnographic insights into the historical and contextual factors underlying dynamite fishing in rural coastal Mtwara. It draws on ethnographic data gathered through participant observation, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with residents from two neighboring coastal villages – one located inside a marine protected area (MPA), and another located outside the MPA’s boundary. The paper first examines the views of elderly men and women to provide the historical context of dynamite fishing in coastal Mtwara. It then juxtaposes youth perceptions regarding marine conservation and dynamite fishing in the two villages, vis-à-vis ongoing efforts to curb destructive fishing practices and to enhance marine biodiversity and ecotourism in the region. Results of the study reveal that unresolved tensions between the MPA authorities and local fishers surrounding enforcement practices and unfulfilled gear-exchange-related promises, and allegations of poor governance, are important contextual factors in the persistence of dynamite fishing. The paper concludes by articulating possible remedial measures to mitigate the tensions between youth concerns about their livelihoods, and the goals of marine biodiversity conservation as a way forward in preventing dynamite fishing.