There is increasing concern about the conservation status of sharks. However, the presence of numerous different (and potentially mutually exclusive) policies complicates management implementation and public understanding of the process. We distributed an online survey to members of the largest professional shark and ray research societies to assess member knowledge of and attitudes toward different conservation policies. Questions covered society member opinions on conservation and management policies, personal histories of involvement in advocacy and management, and perceptions of the approach of conservation nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to shark conservation. One hundred and two surveys were completed (overall response rate 21%). Respondents considered themselves knowledgeable about and actively involved in conservation and management policy; a majority believed scientists have a responsibility to advocate for conservation (75%), and majorities have sent formal public comments to policymakers (54%) and included policy suggestions in their papers (53%). They believe sustainable shark fisheries are possible, are currently happening today (in a few places), and should be the goal instead of banning fisheries. Respondents were generally less supportive of newer limit-based (i.e., policies that ban exploitation entirely without a species-specific focus) conservation policy tools, such as shark sanctuaries and bans on the sale of shark fins, than of target-based fisheries management tools (i.e., policies that allow for sustainable harvest of species whose populations can withstand it), such as fishing quotas. Respondents were generally supportive of environmental NGO efforts to conserve sharks but raised concerns about some NGOs that they perceived as using incorrect information and focusing on the wrong problems. Our results show there is an ongoing debate in shark conservation and management circles relative to environmental policy on target-based natural resources management tools versus limit-based conservation tools. They also suggest that closer communication between the scientific and environmental NGO communities may be needed to recognize and reconcile differing values and objectives between these groups.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
A marine reserve, or marine protected area (MPA), enhances the health of the marine ecosystem, secures livelihoods, and improves community well-being. Despite successful implementation of reserves all over the world, little attention has been given to participation and cooperation between stakeholders in less known and small MPAs. This paper investigates fishers’ perceptions of marine reserves in their communities, with an emphasis on the similarities and differences in their perceptions: (1) when their municipal governance is strong; (2) when their incomes are different; and (3) when they are members of non-government organisations (NGOs), or people’s organisations (POs). Using survey data from 175 fishers in 5 coastal communities, north of the Province of Iloilo, fishers’ perceptions were analysed regarding conflict between various stakeholders in reserves management, as well as their opinions regarding the level of participation in POs and in the overall improvement of coral reefs. Results of the study showed that improvement in the quantity and quality of coral reefs from establishment of marine reserves could be enhanced if fishers have higher incomes, are members of a people’s organisation, or have less conflict with other fishers and their local government. Thus, attempts to improve local marine conditions through MPAs should address local participation and membership to NGOs/POs.
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) conducted a sur- vey of fisheries stakeholders on the Gulf and East Coasts of the United States to learn their views on ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) of fisheries resourc- es. The survey asked a series of attitude and opinion questions along with general environmental literacy and demographic questions to a sample of 7,850 fisheries stakeholders, stratified by region. Results indicate that respondents’ knowledge of the status of fisheries resources is qualitatively similar to NMFS ratings, though generally respondents were less than satisfied with current fisheries management. Results also suggest that, despite concerns over sev- eral specific measures, respondents gener- ally see potential in an EBFM approach to management.
Ecosystem changes currently question the traditional allocation of fishing rights and quotas in the fishery of Northeast Atlantic mackerel and Norwegian spring-spawning herring in the Northeast Atlantic. Variability in the distribution of these highly migratory species escalated in a political conflict between member states of the European Union, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway, which is a driving force for unsustainable fishery. The aim of this paper is to investigate this conflict by outlining the social understandings of diverse stakeholders by using the Q methodology. The method reduced the complexity of numerous opinions, detected four distinct perspectives and simultaneously categorised the participating stakeholders. Although the perspectives differ in various elements, the protection of economic interests seems to dominate over the quest for sustainability. The call of all stakeholders in this study to clarify the fishing rights in the Northeast Atlantic reveals a clear deficiency of the current international fishery management in handling abrupt ecological changes and the necessity to acknowledge this as a complex adaptive system.
Putting climate change policy-integration into practice is challenged by problems of institutional misfit, due to, inter alia, deficient vertical administrative interplay. While most focus within the field of climate change research has targeted the national–local interplay, less is known about the interface of regional and local perspectives. Here, the aim is to study that interface with a specific focus on the relation between regional and local spatial planning actors, through a case-study of transport and coastal zone management in a Swedish municipality. The article is based on interviews (focus group and single in-depth) and official planning documents. The material reveals a tricky planning situation, replete with conflict. In practice, various institutional frameworks, claims and ambitions collide. The attempts to steer the local spatial planning initiatives from the regional level led to conflicts, which in turn seems to have hampered the overall work for climate change management through spatial planning. Furthermore, there are few traces of prospects of a smooth vertical institutional interplay able to support the overall aims related to integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation in spatial planning.
Although it is one of the major threats to sandy beach ecosystems, the impact of harvesting on marine invertebrates is poorly understood, especially considering that recreational harvesting is practiced with little or no management on beaches worldwide. Current management strategies not only target economically valuable resources and focus on biological aspects of harvested populations, but they also tend to neglect socioeconomic information such as the profile, behavior, consumption characteristics of harvesters and their perception of threats to their activities, all of which are little studied. This study evaluated the social aspects of harvesting of the clam Tivela mactroides, based on semi-structured interviews carried out at Caraguatatuba Bay, São Paulo, Brazil, during two sampling periods between 2003 and 2008. This cultural activity has continued for decades, with the continual entry of new harvesters, and the harvesters’ profile and methods varied little over time. Clammers do not depend economically on the resource, use clams mainly for family consumption, harvest them with low frequency, prefer free time periods (for subsistence) and invest little in developing more-efficient harvesting strategies, such as criteria for selecting the harvesting area and more-efficient tools. The clammers showed little awareness of the problems related to harvesting of T. mactroides and the risks associated with its consumption, despite local threats such as episodes of poor water quality and oil spills. Changes in stock abundance did not affect the socioeconomic profile or collecting behavior of clammers, and there was no evidence that harvesting pressure affects fluctuations in the clam stock. An alternate ecosystem-based management approach could include improvement of environmental quality, to guarantee food security for low-income families and food safety for all consumers, instead of traditionally employed resource-based restrictive practices, since clam collecting in Caraguatatuba Bay is a low-impact socio-cultural activity. These findings emphasize that managers of subsistence and recreational activities should not focus only on the potential environmental problems caused by exploitation, but may also benefit from understanding the harvesters, harvesting procedure and consumption estimates, as well as the sociocultural role of and threats to these activities.
Stakeholders are presumed to represent different interests for marine and coastal areas with the potential to influence marine protected area planning and management. We implemented a public participation GIS (PPGIS) system in the remote Kimberley region of Australia to identify the spatial values and preferences for marine and coastal areas. We assessed similarities and differences in PPGIS participants (N = 578) using three operational definitions for “stakeholder” based on: (1) self-identified group, (2) self-identified future interests in the region, and (3) participant value orientation that reflects a preferred trade-off between environmental and economic outcomes. We found moderate levels of association between alternative stakeholder classifications that were logically related to general and place-specific participatory mapping behavior in the study region. We then analyzed how stakeholder classifications influence specific management preferences for proposed marine protected areas (MPAs) in the study region. Conservation-related values and preferences dominated the mapped results in all proposed marine reserves, the likely result of volunteer sampling bias by conservation stakeholder interests participating in the study. However, we suggest these results may also reflect the highly politicized process of marine conservation planning in the Kimberley where conservation efforts have recently emerged and galvanized to oppose a major offshore gas development and associated land-based infrastructure. Consistent with other participatory mapping studies, our results indicate that the chosen operational definition for stakeholder group such as group identity versus interests can influence participatory mapping outcomes, with implications for MPA designation and management. Future research is needed to better understand the strengths and limitations of participatory mapping that is framed in stakeholder perspectives, especially when sampling relies heavily on volunteer recruitment and participation methods that appear predisposed to participatory bias. In parallel, practical efforts to ensure that social research efforts such as this are included in MPA planning must remain of the highest priority for scientists and managers alike.
Q methodology provides a novel, quantitative approach to reveal stakeholder perspectives and was used to assess social acceptance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with fisheries and conservation management goals using the Devon & Severn region, UK as a case study site. Participants sorted a set of statements (n=42) into a forced-choice frequency distribution and centroid analysis revealed three factors for interpretation: (1) ‘pro-conservation’, characterised by views that conservation should be prioritised over commercial and economic interests; (2) ‘pro-fisheries’ who saw fishing as the priority and expressed concerns over the uncertainty of management measures and the number of planned MPAs; and (3) ‘win–win’ who felt that the current approach to marine management using MPAs would allow both fisheries and conservation goals to be met. Despite some differences in opinion, social acceptability of MPAs was identified across all three discourses, but was limited by the knock-on effects of the exclusion of stakeholders from the implementation of MPAs and the development of management measures. This resulted in disenfranchisement and uncertainty over the future of their activities. The results suggest that social acceptability of MPAs is generated by effective and ongoing stakeholder engagement, transparency and honesty relating to the costs and benefits of designations and a certainty that once sites are in place the resources exist for their effective management. Understanding social acceptability will guide adaptive management and increase the chances of MPA success and the meeting of global targets.
Discarding of commercially important fish species in the bottom trawl fisheries in the northern Mediterranean Sea was investigated by soliciting the long-term recollections of fishers engaged or formerly engaged in such fisheries. The main aim of our investigation was to describe the prevalence of discarding and its evolution over the past 70 years using information gathered through individual questionnaire-based interviews with fishers from ports in Spain, Italy, and Greece, following a standardized sampling protocol. Although it proved impossible to derive absolute estimates of the volume of discarded catches over the period investigated, we conclude that over the past 70 years, discarding as a practice has gradually increased in the northern Mediterranean trawl fisheries and has been accompanied by a shift in the species composition of the discarded catch. While discarding can occur for a number of reasons, our investigations indicate that discarding in the past was mostly driven by market demand, but recent legal and regulatory constraints have led to changes in fishing strategies and became a significant reason for discards.
This paper discusses the results of a multi-country survey about private stakeholders' contribution to coastal preservation. It was conducted in four coastal sites of Greece, Italy and France, in order to collect information about beach visitors' perception of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and their willingness to pay (WTP) for beach preservation, intended here as defence from erosion. In order to find out whether ICZM perception is a determinant of WTP, regression analysis is applied. Results show that in these sites respondents have a low level of information about the nature of ICZM, despite local authorities having implemented some ICZM strategies for preserving the coast. Nevertheless, those who are informed about ICZM have a higher probability of paying for beach preservation. This suggests to policymakers that promoting public awareness about ICZM may increase the probability of paying. Finally, some categories of visitors, such as women and young and middle-aged people, have a higher probability of paying than men and older people, thus suggesting a more sensitive attitude to beach preservation. Therefore, policy-makers should also pay attention to the categories of visitors less likely to pay.