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.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
Over the past several decades marine conservation policy has supported the implementation of protected areas in ocean and coastal environments to restrict some elements of human use for ecological benefits. The appropriate extent of protection and the allowable uses are often the subject of public debate about marine protected area policy. Local community dynamics around marine protected area designation and management have been the subject of much ocean and coastal management social science research. However, broader public opinions and attitudes about marine protected areas are not well understood and are critical for managers seeking to maintain their public trust obligations in environmental management. This paper provides a model for understanding the attitudes and beliefs that foster public support for or opposition to marine protections. We explored the relationships between awareness, attitudes and beliefs towards coastal and marine resource issues and uses, and demographics among a sample of Oregon, USA residents (n = 459), and tested their influence on support for expanding Oregon's recently established marine reserves. We found that Oregonians have relatively low familiarity with Oregon's marine reserve system, but that familiarity did not influence public support for Oregon's marine reserves. Instead public support was lower among coastal residents and those with positive attitudes towards commercial fisheries, and higher for those concerned with the ecological integrity of Oregon's ocean and supportive of some limits to human uses of the ocean. Our findings highlight the need for managers to engage both coastal communities and the general public to make a case for the value of marine protected areas in safeguarding the public trust.
Large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs), MPAs greater than 100,000km2, have proliferated in the past decade. However, the value of LSMPAs as conservation tools is debated, in both global scientific and policy venues as well as in particular sites. To add nuance and more diverse voices to this debate, this research examines the perspectives of stakeholders directly engaged with LSMPAs. We conducted a Q Method study with forty LSMPA stakeholders at five sites, including three established LSMPAs (the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, United States; the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, Kiribati; the National Marine Sanctuary, Palau) and two sites where LSMPAs had been proposed at the time of research (Bermuda and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile). The analysis reveals five distinct viewpoints of LSMPAs. These include three more optimistic views of LSMPAs we have named Enthusiast, Purist, and Relativist. It also depicts two more cautious views of LSMPAs, which we have named Critic and Skeptic. The findings demonstrate the multi-dimensionality of stakeholder viewpoints on LSMPAs. These shared viewpoints have implications for the global LSMPA debate and LSMPA decision-makers, including highlighting the need to focus on LSMPA consultation processes. Better understanding of these viewpoints, including stakeholder beliefs, perspectives, values and concerns, may help to facilitate more nuanced dialogue amongst LSMPA stakeholders and, in turn, promote better governance of LSMPAs.
We depend on the sea, economically, social well-being, and for the quality of our lives, yet direct and indirect human activities have affected the marine environment, causing many problems such as overfishing and pollution at the local scale and ocean warming and acidification at the global one. Hence, addressing the cumulative effects of these activities is required to conserve the marine environment for our current and future generations. Social commitment and support for these actions depend, however, on awareness and requires, therefore, an understanding of citizens’ awareness and perceptions on these issues. We assessed the awareness and the perceptions of Saudi citizens on ocean issues through an online questionnaire about environmental issues globally and in the country. The survey was completed by 1,524 Saudi citizens 18 years old and above, with different geographic distributions, gender, and educational status. The participants identified climate change within the top three global problems, with variable level of information and trust on different sources of environmental information. Littering, sewage pollution, and chemical pollution were identified as the top three major marine issues in Saudi Arabia, with the respondents demanding an immediate action through imposing fines to polluters and more regulatory constraints to activities that act as sources of pollution as well as supporting research in science and technologies to address these environmental issues.
There is a global lack of data concerning shark consumption trends, consumer attitudes, and public knowledge regarding sharks. This is the case in Trinidad and Tobago, where shark is a popular culinary delicacy. A Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) survey was conducted in Trinidad and Tobago. Six hundred and seven questionnaires were administered. Univariate and stepwise multivariate logistic regressions were performed to test the association between KAP and demographic categories. The response rate was 93.4% with 567 questionnaires returned (473 from Trinidad and 94 from Tobago). Two hundred and seventeen (38.3%) participants were knowledgeable, 422 (74.4%) displayed attitudes in favour of shark conservation and sustainable use, and 270 (47.6%) displayed practices promoting shark conservation and sustainable use. Island (AOR = 2.81, CI = 1.78, 4.46) and tertiary education (AOR = 2.31, CI = 1.20, 4.46) significantly influenced knowledge level. Gender (AOR = 1.50, CI = 1.02, 2.20) and island (AOR = 0.56, CI = 0.35, 0.90) significantly influenced attitude. Gender (COR = 1.59, CI = 1.14, 2.22) was significantly associated with practices. Over 70% of respondents ate shark, and 54.7% ate shark infrequently enough to avoid risks from heavy metal toxicity. Our results may be useful to develop public awareness and practice improvement initiatives in order to improve KAP regarding shark meat consumption.
As conservation has limited funds, numerous studies have identified aesthetic characteristics of successful flagship species which generate donations and conservation. However, prior information about species can also impact human preferences, and may covary with animal appearance, leading to different conclusions about which species will be most effective. To separate these two factors, we use images of imaginary animals as a novel paradigm to investigate preferences for animal appearance in conservation donors. Using discrete choice experiments, we show that potential conservation donors prefer larger imaginary animals which are multicolored and cooler toned. We found no effect of eye position or fur, which we used as a proxy for mammalian species. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these preferences can predict the number of donations received by species‐specific conservation charities. These results suggest coloring, and particularly number of colors, is an overlooked aspect of animal appeal, and an important aesthetic characteristic for identifying future flagship species.
Institutional actors have a crucial role in adaptation to climate change, especially for highly vulnerable territories such as small tropical islands. Here, we emphasize their major role in the co-design of tailored coastal climate services (CCS) based on a case study of French Polynesia. In this perspective, we assessed climate change perceptions by public authorities and identified their needs with regard to climate-related science. This assessment included an analysis of the decision-making context, semi-structured interviews with practitioners representing 23 administrative divisions directly or indirectly involved in climate change issues, and a workshop dedicated to discussing needs in terms of CCS. Generally, respondents did not identify climate change as a major current issue in French Polynesia; they showed more concern for economic growth, pollution, land tenure, and land use planning. However, interviewees were concerned about future impacts of sea-level rise (SLR) and ocean warming and acidification, mentioning in particular their detrimental impacts on marine ecosystems, shoreline position, economy (especially agriculture and the blue economy), and freshwater resources. The interviewed practitioners showed particular interest in SLR projections for future decades up to a century, and for knowledge on expected impacts to critical infrastructure, coastal systems, and natural resources. Practitioners’ needs made it possible to co-define four CCS to be developed: (1) the design of sea-level-rise-compatible critical infrastructures (airports and ports); (2) adapting to the risk of destabilization of beaches and reef islands; (3) professional training on climate change impacts and adaptation, including an analysis of potentially emerging new jobs in the SLR context; and (4) the development of participatory approaches for observing climate change impacts. While the co-development of these CCS will require a multi-year engagement of stakeholders concerned with climate change adaptation, our results already shed light on specific needs for salient CCS in highly vulnerable tropical island territories.
Feeding wild animals is a regular habit in ecotourism worldwide with poorly known consequences for ecosystem functioning. This study investigates how effective bread feeding is at attracting coral reef fish in the South Pacific, which feeding groups of fish are most attracted, and how natural foraging rates of an omnivorous and a grazing-detritivorous fish are affected. Data were collected at sites where fish are regularly fed bread by snorkellers and at comparison sites where bread was only provided for this study, within the Aitutaki lagoon (Cook Islands). The fish community was censused and foraging rates of two model species (Chaetodon auriga, Ctenochaetus striatus) were quantified one hour before, during, and an hour after feeding events. Twenty-five percent of the species present at all sites (piscivores-invertivores) were effectively attracted to bread. Overall, mean fish density was higher at tourism feeding sites than at the comparison sites. During bread feeding events, taxonomic richness decreased, compared to the hours prior and after feeding across all sites. As piscivore-invertivores were consistently attracted to bread, localized shifts in their dominance over other trophic groups may be expected if bread feeding persists, likely carrying consequences for ecosystem functioning. The effect of bread feeding events on natural foraging rates differed between the model species. C. auriga ceased foraging on natural foods to feed on bread. Although C. striatus never fed on bread, its foraging rate on epilithic algal matrices decreased during bread feeding events. This indirect non-lethal ecological consequence of bread feeding contributes a previously unanticipated example relevant to the “ecology of fear” in marine fish. Stakeholder interviews revealed that locals favor feeding to sustain tourist satisfaction, whereas tourists appreciate snorkeling regardless of feeding. This indicates an opportunity for restrictions on fish feeding with minimal drawbacks for tourism. Future research on fish metabolism and cascading effects on the reef benthos may reveal further impacts of feeding on coral reef communities.
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.
Fisheries management should account for the tradeoffs associated with regulatory options to minimize unintended consequences and undue impacts on stakeholder communities. Importantly, these assessments necessitate the inclusion of the perceptions of resource users to help anticipate consequences. While stakeholder involvement is a central tenet in federal fisheries management, managers are faced with many challenges such as those associated with collecting perspectives from diverse groups and the potential biases associated with public testimony. Here we demonstrate the strength of a collaborative approach to generating social information from a commercial fishing cooperative (i.e., an association) by partnering with the Pollock Conservation Cooperative, a fishing cooperative for the Bering Sea pollock Catcher/Processor fleet in Alaska. To understand how the fleet may respond to hypothetical regulatory and environmental changes, we collaboratively designed a survey and applied a novel participant-selection strategy that focused on personnel involved in decision-making at the corporate and vessel levels. Our findings revealed that respondents from separate companies and with different performance histories had different perceptions, suggesting that broad fleet-level analyses are critical for management strategy evaluations that seek to understand the impacts of environmental change and regulatory decisions on a fishery. As such, establishing lines of applied sociological research could benefit from a collaborative approach that accounts for the fishery's organizational structure.