Marine protected areas (MPAs) conserve marine biodiversity and ecosystems by limiting or prohibiting resource use in specific areas. Reduced access to a marine resource will invariably impact local communities which reside nearby and utilise those resources. Social dimensions are recognised as crucial to the success of MPAs in meeting environmental goals, however, these dimensions are poorly understood. While much research is focused on developing countries, the majority of recent growth in MPA coverage is occurring in more economically developed settings. This research aims to address this gap by exploring the diversity of social impacts associated with an established MPA on the mid-coast of Western Australia. A range of extractive and non-extractive stakeholders were interviewed to identify the type of impacts experienced and how these are associated with attitudes towards the MPA. The results demonstrate there is a strong association between the nature of the impacts experienced by stakeholders and their attitudes. The social impacts are not distributed uniformly among stakeholders, with some groups of extractive users suffering the majority of the negative impacts and holding highly critical attitudes. The most common adverse impacts affect individual users’ well-being including feelings of fear, stress, uncertainty and inequity, while impacts on fishing activities are limited. Those who reported broader scale community or environmental benefits held largely positive assessments of the MPA. Together these results illustrate the importance of identifying and mitigating the full spectrum of social impacts experienced, as opposed to a narrow focus on the disruption of fishing activities or socio-economic impacts alone.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
Coastal areas are under increasing pressure from rapid human population growth, yet empirical research on the effect of migration on coastal and marine resources is scarce. We contribute to this understudied literature by conducting an original household survey in a coastal region of Southeastern Ghana. This study employs two proxies for pro-environmental behavior that have not, to our knowledge, been used in the context of coastal migration, to explicitly compare migrant and non-migrant populations. Environmental attitudes toward coastal resources and individual extraction behavior in common-pool resource (CPR) experiments have shown broad relevance in the literature to understand natural resource decision making. We found that migrants in general did not differ significantly from non-migrants in relation to their environmental attitudes or their extraction behavior in the CPR game. However, when focusing on migrant fishers only, results suggested that this subgroup was less concerned about the utilization of coastal resources than non-migrant fishers and behaved less cooperatively in the CPR experiment. These findings, though, held true only for the subgroup of fishers, and could not be found for other occupational groups. Therefore, we conclude that migrants do not per se value coastal resources less or cooperate less in CPR situations, but that socioeconomic characteristics, and particularly their occupational status and their relation to the resource, matter.
Compliance is critical for effective conservation, and non-compliance regularly negates the desired outcomes of the world's marine protected areas. To increase compliance, practitioners must understand why resource users are breaking the rules, why these behaviours continue to occur, and how to effectively confront non-compliance. This study interviewed 682 recreational fishers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) to examine the social components of compliance management. These components included fisher's perceptions of non-compliance, or poaching (defined here as fishing in no-take zones), as well as the beliefs, attitudes, normative influences, consumptive orientation and perceived behavioural controls that may influence fisher's decisions to poach. Encouragingly, most fishers had high perceptions of the legitimacy of management agencies and thought poaching was socially and personally unacceptable. However, these findings suggest that four (mis)perceptions or mechanisms are likely operative and at least partially responsible for continued non-compliance by fishers. These included pluralistic ignorance, false consensus, social learning, and a perceived lack of deterrence. Numerous tools can be used to address and correct these perceptions, including social norms and influence approaches, strengthened coercive deterrence measures, fear-arousing communications, and social outreach. If properly implemented, these tools and approaches should not only increase compliance but also reduce support (whether active or passive) for a culture of non-compliance.
Advocates of marine biodiversity conservation have intensified their calls for the rapid expansion of marine protected areas (MPAs) across the globe, while researchers continue to examine why some people in affected communities support MPAs and others oppose them. Drawing on an ethnographic study of dispossession and the micropolitics of marine conservation in southeastern Tanzania, this paper examines the local dynamics pertaining to the Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park (MBREMP) in rural Mtwara on Tanzania's border with Mozambique. In-depth interviews with 160 individuals and eight focus group discussions with 48 participants were conducted in four sea-bordering villages. By analyzing the narratives of people living in the MBREMP's catchment area regarding their lived experiences with the MBREMP, the paper highlights inter-village and intra-village similarities and differences in the perceived significance and social impact of the MBREMP. Through narratives, people revealed their feelings of angst, disempowerment and vulnerability, emanating from their awareness of the state-directed dispossession they had experienced. The MBREMP's gendered impact was evident as women frequently blamed the park rangers for making their lives difficult through unreasonable and coercive restrictive practices. The paper argues that to achieve the laudable global goals of marine biodiversity conservation, it is imperative that the social complexities of the local context, livelihood concerns, gender relations, social hierarchies and the diverse perspectives of residents are ethnographically documented and integrated into policies leading to the practice of good governance of MPAs.
Participatory management is widely recognised as a working method of paramount importance, based on the principles of knowledge sharing, accountability and legitimacy. Hence, it is broadly considered suitable for addressing issues related to the sustainable development of the seafood industry, and specifically, of the aquaculture system. A survey focused on the current EU regulatory framework was carried out to elicit stakeholders' preferences, knowledge and experience on key issues for the development of organic aquaculture, supported by science-based regulations. The survey was completed by 65 stakeholders belonging to several categories, and it was supported by the implementation of the Analytic Hierarchy Process method. Stakeholders' preferences were elicited on organic production methods and control systems, the quality of the environment and organic products, fish health and welfare. The views expressed by the participants revealed both competence and awareness, despite the complexity of the subject. Several ideas and useful suggestions emerged regarding unresolved technical issues. In addition, the need for a targeted communication strategy on the quality of organic aquaculture products and the necessity of fostering European/national programs to support the production and marketing of organic aquaculture products were highlighted.
The marine world is, to many, remote and exotic. For city residents to fully embrace the wonder and beauty of the ocean world, and to actively work on its behalf, it will require emotional connection and caring. There are many different ways to do this and several of the more compelling and creative are described here: using social media to foster a sense of fascination and concern for the great white shark; taking children into the water and challenging them to find, look, touch and learn about the nature there; sending real-time video images from underwater divers to the surface; developing new long term institutions, such as a New York Harbor School and the Billion Oyster Project, to educate and engage residents of all ages. There are now compelling models that other cities can follow to foster this deep sense of emotional connection and caring for the marine realm.
With the increase in development of large marine protected areas (LMPAs) worldwide, there have been calls from social scientists to gather better empirical information about the human dimensions of LMPAs. Of the social research done on LMPAs to date, most has focused on the perceptions of stakeholders closely connected to their implementation, and little research has explored the general public's response. This paper presents the results of a phone survey conducted in the US territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to assess residents' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument—a LMPA designated offshore in 2009. The survey was administered in 2012 to 500 randomly-selected residents from each territory. Findings suggest: (1) public awareness of the Monument prior to the survey was low; (2) residents generally supported designation of the Monument; (3) most residents did not believe that the Monument would affect them or their community; and (4) knowledge and perceptions of the Monument varied between fishing and non-fishing households. This research illustrates that awareness and views differ between stakeholders and those of the general public, which should be used to inform social research on LMPAs and outreach for LMPA managers.
This study explores people's environmental attitudes and motives for putting economic values to marine biodiversity protection. Primary data were collected from a sample of 359 residents in two important Greek ports: Thessaloniki and Volos. Respondents’ environmental attitude was measured with the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale. Economic values were derived from contingent valuation survey. Use of appropriate methods revealed three factors of environmental attitudes: man dominate to nature, anti-anthropocentrism and limits to growth. Significant relationships are found between NEP scale factors, socio-economic characteristics and individuals’ opinions about biodiversity utility. Pro-environmental behavior is associated with higher NEP scores. A logistic regression setup the relation between people's willingness to pay (WTP) for marine biodiversity protection with their socio-economic characteristics and PCA results. Significant relationships are found between environmental attitudes, non-use motivations, WTP and ethical motives for species protection. Mean individuals’ WTP for marine biodiversity protection was calculated approximately equal to €29.
The concept of community is often used in environmental policy to foster environmental stewardship and public participation, crucial prerequisites of effective management. However, prevailing conceptualizations of community based on residential location or resource use are limited with respect to their utility as surrogates for communities of shared environment-related interests, and because of the localist perspective they entail. Thus, addressing contemporary sustainability challenges, which tend to involve transnational social and environmental interactions, urgently requires additional approaches to conceptualizing community that are compatible with current globalization. We propose a framing for redefining community based on place attachment (i.e., the bonds people form with places) in the context of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Area threatened by drivers requiring management and political action at scales beyond the local. Using data on place attachment from 5,403 respondents residing locally, nationally, and internationally, we identified four communities that each shared a type of attachment to the reef and that spanned conventional location and use communities. We suggest that as human–environment interactions change with increasing mobility (both corporeal and that mediated by communication and information technology), new types of people–place relations that transcend geographic and social boundaries and do not require ongoing direct experience to form are emerging. We propose that adopting a place attachment framing to community provides a means to capture the neglected nonmaterial bonds people form with the environment, and could be leveraged to foster transnational environmental stewardship, critical to advancing global sustainability in our increasingly connected world.
Given competing objectives vying for space in the marine environment, the island of Bermuda may be an ideal candidate for comprehensive marine spatial planning (MSP). However, faced with other pressing issues, ocean management reform has not yet received significant traction from the government, a pattern seen in many locations. Spatial planning processes often struggle during the proposal, planning, or implementation phases due to stakeholder opposition and/or government wariness to change. Conflict among stakeholders about management reform has also proven to be a deterrent to MSP application in many locations. With these obstacles in mind, a detailed stakeholder survey was conducted in Bermuda to determine awareness, attitudes and perceptions regarding ocean health, threats to ocean environments, the effectiveness of current ocean management, and possible future changes to management. How perceptions vary for different types of stakeholders and how attitudes about specific concerns relate to attitudes about management changes were examined. Overall, the results indicate a high degree of support for spatial planning and ocean zoning and a high level of concordance even among stakeholder groups that are typically assumed to have conflicting agendas. However, attitudes were not entirely homogeneous, particularly when delving into details about specific management changes. For example, commercial fishers were generally less in favor, relative to other stakeholder groups, of increasing regulations on ocean uses with the notable exception of regulations for recreational fishing. Given the results of this survey, public support is likely to be high for government action focused on ocean management reform in Bermuda.