A representative survey of 530 residents of the most heavily populated region in Oregon (USA) showed that most believed the concept and label of wilderness could apply to the ocean. Although a majority thought Oregon's marine reserves could be called wilderness, other areas of the ocean along Oregon's coast and elsewhere in the world were seen as more appropriate for marine wilderness. Respondents also thought wilderness was more applicable to land than the ocean. Over half would not change their attitudes or visitation associated with marine areas if they were designated as wilderness. For those who would be affected by this designation, most would change their attitudes in a positive direction and increase visitation. “Marine protected area,” “marine reserve,” “marine wilderness,” and “wilderness” designations evoked different reactions among respondents with marine protected areas and reserves inferring regulations and limitations, and terrestrial and marine wildernesses eliciting notions of pristineness and purity.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
Policy-makers are faced with the ongoing challenge of designing management interventions which conserve marine ecosystems while maintaining a sustainable level of resource user access. Recreational fishers are a key user group to consider as their activities can have significant impacts on fish populations. In some contexts, recreational fishers also represent a significant proportion of the public and can hold considerable influence on governing authorities. This issue is particularly pertinent for marine protected areas as significant opposition exists within some local communities, including recreational fishers, and community support is critical to achieving success. An online survey was employed across Western Australia to investigate recreational fishers' motivations and their attitudes towards fisheries management and different types of spatial closures, including marine protected areas. The results show the most specialised fishers demonstrate stronger support for traditional fisheries management compared to other groups, but stronger opposition to closed fishing zones specified as sanctuary zones. In comparison, no strong opposition is present for temporarily closed fishing zones or those protecting unique or fragile places. Our results suggest that rather than spatial fishing closures, it is the designated purpose of sanctuary zones for precautionary management which some specialised fishers reject. Understanding patterns of support are vital for policy-makers to design and communicate policy which is seen as appropriate and legitimate amongst stakeholders, particularly to those specialised fishers who hold significant influence in fishing communities.
Examining stakeholder's knowledge, perception and attitudes are necessary for effective implementation of laws that are designed to protect and conserve marine biodiversity. In order to understand knowledge, awareness and perception about the law and the species that are protected under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, I interviewed (N = 159) stakeholders (77 fishermen, 39 authorities and 41 middlemen/traders) in the Andaman Islands, India. Within respondents, mean awareness about different protected marine species was (80%) amongst authorities, followed by (63%) amongst traders/middlemen and (59%) amongst fishermen. The awareness about a few charismatic groups i.e., mammals, reptiles and cnidarians high; whereas awareness about elasmobranchs, fish, sea cucumbers and molluscs low amongst the respondent groups. Amongst several species traded in the islands, the sea cucumber, the trochus and the turbo are in high demand, and there is demand from middlemen and fishers to delist these species. Generalised model revealed that the years of fishing experience, occupation, annual income and age of respondents are important factors in determining awareness of locals towards protected species. Solutions suggested by stakeholders are strict enforcement of the law, education and awareness of protected species, a special task force for dealing with the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, need to curb poaching from foreigners etc. All fishers sell their catch to middlemen/traders who in turn send their catch to mainland India (Tamil Nadu and Kolkata). The knowledge about which government department is responsible for implementation and monitoring of the law is limited amongst all stakeholder groups.The study demonstrates that stakeholder's knowledge, perception and attitude can offer valuable insights towards strengthening the law that protects marine species. Similar studies should be carried out across different coastal states to understand the level of awareness of stakeholders towards protected marine species. Creating awareness, inclusiveness of local stakeholders in decision making, empowering authorities in monitoring can help in strengthening the existing law framework for protected marine species.
Perceptions of coastal hazards and risks and support for mitigation strategies among three different stakeholder groups (experts, businesses, and community members) are compared and analyzed in Waikiki, Hawaii. A justification for research on Waikiki, a world renown tourist destination and its relevance to other coastal communities is provided. It is shown that the three groups perceive risks, such as hurricanes, storm surge, erosion, tsunamis, and other natural and man-made hazards, differently which in turn influences support for mitigation strategies such as sea walls, beach nourishment, elevating or relocating at-risk structures and the preferences as to who should pay for risk reduction strategies. Data were analyzed using basic inferential statistics, GLM regression and correspondence analysis. Correspondence analysis is a novel technique for studying the relationships between stakeholder attributes (demographic, political, etc.) and the level of support for coastal interventions. The implications for researchers, engineers and coastal planners working in at-risk coastal communities are described.
Understanding and engaging the public is key for ensuring the success of government and industry initiatives aimed at addressing the problem of plastic waste. However, there has been little focus on documenting the general public’s attitudes towards plastics. This study examines public beliefs and attitudes towards plastics in Australia and provides insight on a global level. The research was conducted using an online survey of a nationally representative sample (2518 respondents). Overall, the survey results indicate that the public view plastics as a serious environmental issue. Plastic in the ocean had the highest mean rating for seriousness out of nine environmental issues, followed by two other issues relating to plastic waste production and disposal. Whilst there was an association of plastics with food packaging and convenience, there was more of a negative association with the use of plastic overall. Eighty percent of respondents indicated a desire to reduce plastic use and the majority of respondents believe that paper and glass are more environmentally friendly packaging materials than plastics. However, the results showed that many respondents do not translate their aspiration to reduce plastic use into action. Overall, while a majority of the Australian public are concerned about plastics as an environmental issue, they place the bulk of the responsibility for reducing the use of disposable plastic on industry and government.
Marine litter is a global, persistent, and increasing threat to the oceans, and numerous initiatives aim to address this challenge. Fishing For Litter (FFL) is a voluntary clean-up scheme, where litter is collected as part of routine fishing operations. We surveyed fishers (n = 97) and stakeholders (n = 22) in the UK to investigate perceptions of FFL, its strengths and weaknesses, and potential co-benefits of the scheme. Fishers reported being aware of and concerned about the negative impacts of litter. Overall, FFL was evaluated very positively (7.85/10). In addition, FFL fishers reported less environmentally harmful waste managementbehaviors both out at sea and in other contexts than did non-FFL fishers. Fishers and stakeholders listed strengths and weaknesses of the scheme and made suggestions for future changes. As well as directly helping to remove litter, this paper demonstrates that clean-up schemes can make a contribution to addressing the underlying causes of marine pollution.
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.
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.