The management of waterways, including marine parks, typically centres on assessment of biophysical phenomena, whilst social dimensions are relatively neglected. The diverse ways people interact with and relate to aquatic environments are consequently overlooked in planning and management. This misses opportunities as people's decisions and actions have direct and indirect impacts on how natural systems function. Effective management requires appreciation of how people interact with these environments in order to tailor, and build public support for, management plans and ensure compliance. This qualitative study, using 30 semi-structured interviews, explores people's values towards Moreton Bay Marine Park and its tributary rivers in south east Queensland, Australia. The values offer a powerful means to understand the different ways people relate to these waters. The study found that these waterway environments provide people with a diversity of rich and meaningful experiences, and that individuals hold several values each; they are not discrete. Some types of value frequently occur together. These clusters of values suggest new ways of working with the public to achieve management goals of protecting and improving waterway environments.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
Efforts to expand marine aquaculture into offshore environments have increased in the United States, however many questions remain about whether offshore aquaculture is a feasible and appropriate activity. This paper explores these questions by investigating stakeholder perceptions of offshore mussel aquaculture in New England, USA. These views provide insight into the important challenges and opportunities facing expansion, and elucidate whether and how industry may develop and be incorporated into ocean planning and management. Results shows that regulatory and financial conditions are considered the primary challenges facing offshore expansion, whereas technical, environmental, and market conditions were generally deemed favorable or manageable. There is greater uncertainty about social and political conditions. While moving mussel aquaculture offshore lessens the conflicts associated with inshore activity, it also moves industry into new spaces with unfamiliar users. There are tensions inherent in addressing these challenges. Whereas broad regulatory change will encourage offshore development, targeted government involvement may be more productive in the near term. Similarly, while large seafood companies may appear viable candidates for offshore development, they are also limited by regulatory, social, and political resistance. Overall, an increased emphasis on government interventions at the local and regional scale are desirable for proponents of offshore expansion. The paper discusses the management implications of these findings, and suggests that a shift in focus toward targeted and non-regulatory government interventions; local, regional, and informal planning discussions; and community-based and cooperative mussel aquaculture initiatives may hold promise for responsible development in New England offshore waters and elsewhere.
Achieving high compliance with resource-use management policies is a critical concern to achieving sustainability, particularly in poor countries. Willingness to comply may depend on the values and perceptions of benefits and legitimacy of the restrictions. Consequently, we interviewed and evaluated the perceptions of fishing restrictions among ~2100 marine fisheries stakeholders (resource users and managers) in 102 fishing villages in Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania. We hypothesized that perceived benefits would decline and social inequity increase along a hypothesized gradient of increasing access restriction – ranging from minimum size of fish to fisheries closures. Managers did not recognize the hypothesized access restriction gradient, seeing most restrictions as beneficial, but with some nation-specific distinctions. Village-level responses of resource users varied by country, and overall perceived benefits of access restrictions increased with the wealth, education and membership in fishing organizations. In Kenya and Tanzania, some communities with views that differed greatly from managers were, in places, found near marine protected areas and they perceived more benefits accruing to the government than resource users for the strongest access restrictions. Madagascar and Mozambique fishing villages had low between-community variability, and their responses did not reflect the hypothesized restriction gradient or strong social disparity, which may reflect limited practical experience with restrictions. These results suggest that countries with stronger central governments contained villages with more between-community variability and perceived social disparity than weaker governments. We argue that transparent negotiations with stakeholders about the scales of costs and benefits should increase compliance with selected fisheries regulations.
It is generally acknowledged that willingness-to-pay (WTP) estimates for environmental goods exhibit some degree of spatial variation. In a policy context, spatial variation in threatened and endangered species values is important to understand, as the benefit stream from policies affecting threatened and endangered species may vary locally, regionally, or among certain population segments. In this paper we present WTP estimates for eight different threatened and endangered marine species estimated from a stated preference choice experiment. WTP is estimated at two different spatial scales: (a) a random sample of over 5000 U.S. households and (b) geographically embedded samples (relative to the U.S. household sample) of nine U.S. Census regions. We conduct region-to-region and region-to-nation statistical comparisons to determine whether species values differ among regions and between each region and the entire U.S. Our results show limited spatial variation between national values and values estimated from regionally embedded samples, and differences are only found for three of the eight species. More variation exists between regions, and for all species there is a significant difference in at least one region-to-region comparison. Given that policy analyses involving threatened and endangered marine species can often be regional in scope (e.g., ecosystem management) or may disparately affect different regions, our results should be of high interest to the marine management community.
Renewable energy technologies (RETs), such as offshore wind, are facing the dilemma of relatively strong national support, yet formidable local opposition, especially concerning siting decisions. This research uses the Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) as a case study example to analyze the public engagement process that led to the BIWF. This study attempts to find rationales for the public’s support or opposition of the project based on certain aspects of the process, rather than solely examining oppositional viewpoints. Through 19 in-person interviews, state officials, the private development team, and public stakeholders were asked about their expectations as they began the public engagement process. Specifically, the interviewees were asked how they perceive their role in the process, as well as the role of the other groups. Attitudinal statements were used to understand if these expectations were or were not fulfilled by the process and how that may impact project support. These statements and thematic coding found that trust, both for the process and the process leaders, was essential for support of the outcome. Without sensing trust, Public Stakeholders formed opposing views of the process in general, which then led to opposition to the outcome. For building trust, the proper incorporation of expectations was key. Also, the use of more informal meetings and trusted community liaisons were beneficial to the process for building support. The need for trust in the process appears essential for project support. Thus, techniques utilized in this case study can be looked to for best practices of reasonably incorporating expectations to build trust, as well as for potentially increasing support for projects.
Environmental and natural resource management in Australia occurs at a regional scale with many initiatives underpinned by an ecosystem services framework that aims to integrate economic, social and ecological values in decision-making. This research examines potential influences on value integration by identifying stakeholder perspectives for coastal ecosystem services using mangroves in south-east Queensland as a case study. The study site is one of Australia's fastest growing regions and exhibits a “hotbed of issues” with institutional complexity in coastal areas where urban development is concentrated. Q-methodology was used to systematically study stakeholder perspectives on coastal ecosystem services and identify natural groupings between stakeholders with shared values. A total of 43 respondents representing nine stakeholder categories were interviewed. Factor analysis identified four perspectives that were labelled: (1) Green Infrastructure; (2) Recreational Opportunity and Well-being; (3) Sustaining Regional Industries and Communities; and (4) Coastal Living. The concept of ecosystem ‘bundles’ was conducive to analysing the range of services valued by different perspectives and highlighted stakeholder priorities that underpin demand for coastal ecosystem services. Stakeholder perspectives show potential to influence coastal policy according to the ecosystem service categories that are prioritised in decision-making and the saliency of the services to the stakeholder group. This research contributes to the field of coastal management where a lack of progress on “well-documented problems” partly stems from governance failure to capture and consider pluralistic values in decision-making and exacerbates conflict between contested views.
This study examines support for climate adaptation planning and the role of perceived risk, uncertainty, and trust on adaptation of U.S. coastal communities. This assessment is based on the analysis of web-based questionnaires (n = 137) among state, local, and non-government organization (NGO) planners in Alaska, Florida, and Maryland. Ordinal regression and correlation analysis were used to assess which factors are related to support for adaptation during two planning stages. Findings from this study suggest the influence of perceived risk, uncertainty, and trust on support for climate change adaptation (CCA) varies across two stages of adaptation planning (support for the development of plans and willingness to allocate human and financial resources to implement plans). The disaggregation of planning entities into different study areas and levels of management revealed significant differences in the relationship between perceived risk, uncertainty, and trust and support for CCA planning. These findings have implications for the design of communication and engagement strategies.
Information about stakeholder aspirations is a fundamental requirement for ecosystem-based management, but the detail is often elusive, and debates may focus on simplistic opposing positions. This is exemplified by the Antarctic krill fishery, which, despite a current operational catch limit equivalent to just 1% of the estimated biomass and actual annual catches much lower than this, is the subject of a high-profile debate framed around ambiguous concepts such as sustainability. Q methodology was applied to explore the detailed views of representatives of three stakeholder sectors (the fishing industry, conservation-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and scientists from seven countries involved in research on the krill-based ecosystem). The analysis distinguished two clear groupings, one of which included the views of all NGO participants while the other included the views of fishing industry participants and a subset of the scientists. Key differences between the groups included the priority given to different management measures, and to continued commercial fishing. However, the results also revealed considerable overlap between viewpoints. Both groups prioritised the maintenance of ecosystem health and recognised the importance of defining management objectives. Also, neither group prioritised a decrease in catch limits. This suggests that most participants in the study agree that management should improve but do not perceive a major problem in the ecosystem's ability to support current catch levels. Cooperation to identify shared management objectives based on stakeholder aspirations for the ecosystem might enhance progress, whereas polarised discussions about preferred management measures or ambiguous concepts are likely to impede progress.
Trust and cooperation constitute cornerstones of common-pool resource theory, showing that “prosocial” strategies among resource users can overcome collective action problems and lead to sustainable resource governance. Yet, antisocial behavior and especially the coexistence of prosocial and antisocial behaviors have received less attention. We broaden the analysis to include the effects of both “prosocial” and “antisocial” interactions. We do so in the context of marine protected areas (MPAs), the most prominent form of biodiversity conservation intervention worldwide. Our multimethod approach relied on lab-in-the-field economic experiments (n = 127) in two MPA and two non-MPA communities in Baja California, Mexico. In addition, we deployed a standardized fishers’ survey (n = 544) to verify the external validity of our findings and expert informant interviews (n = 77) to develop potential explanatory mechanisms. In MPA sites, prosocial and antisocial behavior is significantly higher, and the presence of antisocial behavior does not seem to have a negative effect on prosocial behavior. We suggest that market integration, economic diversification, and strengthened group identity in MPAs are the main potential mechanisms for the simultaneity of prosocial and antisocial behavior we observed. This study constitutes a first step in better understanding the interaction between prosociality and antisociality as related to natural resources governance and conservation science, integrating literatures from social psychology, evolutionary anthropology, behavioral economics, and ecology.
The ecosystem approach (EA) has been widely adopted as an overarching principle of marine spatial planning (MSP). However, this concept is variously understood and not necessarily translated into practice to MSP participants’ satisfaction. Differences focus around deterministic and relativistic views of the ecosystem and the subsequent role of MSP in prioritising ecological imperatives or balancing competing interests. These issues are explored here through an empirical study of the MSP process in Germany, where the EA has been given policy importance. Responses from participants indicate widespread support for the EA, though this is generally interpreted along the lines of institutional interest, with different understandings regarding the integration of socio-economic activities into the marine environment. Results support the assumption that varying meanings about the EA are being constructed through practice, and echo a wider shift in EA thinking from scientific absolutism to changing sets of guiding principles. The findings lead to the suggestion that more open and accommodating exchange between actors on their perspectives about the EA within MSP processes can lead to a productive development and application of the concept, in line with related notions of collaborative engagement.