While ocean acidification (OA) poses a significant threat to ocean-related ecosystems and communities reliant on marine fisheries, aquaculture, and coral reef systems, limited public understanding and awareness can prevent coastal regions from being able to adequately assess the need for OA adaptation or mitigation. This study assessed public understanding of OA and how social and demographic factors influence the public’s concern for OA. The analysis was based on 311 questionnaires from full-time Alaska residents. The results showed that most Alaskans self-reported to have a basic awareness of OA, and subsequently were able to recognize that CO2 emissions related to human activity are the dominant driver of changing ocean conditions. However, there was a low recognition of how natural variability in the marine environment affects OA, and most respondents were not very confident in their understanding of OA-related science. Moreover, even though many communities in Alaska are reliant on commercial and subsistence fishing activities, the respondents had a low awareness of fisheries-related OA risk. Given the ongoing debate associated with climate change research, evaluating CO2 mitigation efforts through the perspective of OA could give individuals an unbiased way to assess the pros and cons of more intensive efforts to curb CO2 emissions. Furthermore, using OA communication to enhance the understanding of how natural variability influences OA around the state and the potential economic implications for Alaska fisheries would help residents and stakeholders make informed decisions when considering fisheries management plans, food security, and job diversity as OA intensifies. Solidifying the understanding that any reduction in pH and intensification of OA can have implications for marine species that are irreversible on human timescales will reinforce not only that OA is an immediate concern, but also the importance of taking action now.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
Improving the social acceptability or ‘social licence’ of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is a key challenge facing countries all around the world. As the world moves slowly towards the establishment of a global network of MPAs, it is increasingly apparent that a greater understanding of social responses to MPAs is required, given they are often met with resistance from local communities. A series of in-depth, semi structured interviews were conducted across coastal users in New South Wales, Australia, including surfers, recreational fishers, professional fishers, spearfishers, walkers, divers, snorkellers, kayakers and other community members. The research identified the values, images and principles at work amongst coastal users to determine the dominant ‘cultural models’ within the community and how these models influenced attitudes towards MPAs. This research indicates that traditional consultation models may not be sufficient to address the full spectrum of community needs, and in fact suggests the need to re-conceive the make -up of ‘the community’ itself. In the context of MPA planning ‘the community’ is not an amalgamation of a range of homogenous stakeholder groups but instead a diverse and complex mix of identities and value systems which are not confined to particular interest groups. Incorporating consideration of the diverse range of values, images and principles found within and across stakeholder groups will require new and innovative approaches to participation and management.
Ecosystem based ocean management processes seek to manage intricately linked social–ecological systems. These processes are intended to include and integrate appropriate economic, environmental, and social input into decision-making. To address identified challenges with gathering social data this study uses the Q-method to characterize different perspectives about what is valued about the ocean, seafood, and the community in the seafood sector of a single coastal community in British Columbia, Canada. Drawing on a sample of 42 people from the sector, this study identified a range of values, that group together into five distinct perspectives. These perspectives provide insight into how people value the experience versus the utility of the ocean and the different value they attribute to the outcomes of ocean management versus the process deployed. Values do not group together by seafood sub-sector, although the importance of teaching, stewardship, and conservation and respect for the ocean’s resilience are common to all. On the other hand, the various perspectives most sharply diverge with respect to the role of aquaculture and special rights of access. This work demonstrates how the Q-method can help to identify, capture, and compare social values within a sector. In addition, this method can provide participants with a forum to discuss what is important and can provide a common vocabulary that cuts across existing constituencies. This has the potential to facilitate the consideration of a broad range of social values in ocean management.
Numerous international bodies have advocated the development of strategies to achieve the sustainability of marine environments. Typically, such strategies are based on information from expert groups about causes of degradation and policy options to address them, but these strategies rarely take into account assessed information about public awareness, concerns, and priorities. Here we report the results of a pan-European survey of public perceptions about marine environmental impacts as a way to inform the formation of science and policy priorities. On the basis of 10,106 responses to an online survey from people in 10 European nations, spanning a diversity of socioeconomic and geographical areas, we examine the public’s informedness and concern regarding marine impacts, trust in different information sources, and priorities for policy and funding. Results show that the level of concern regarding marine impacts is closely associated with the level of informedness and that pollution and overfishing are two areas prioritized by the public for policy development. The level of trust varies greatly among different information sources and is highest for academics and scholarly publications but lower for government or industry scientists. Results suggest that the public perceives the immediacy of marine anthropogenic impacts and is highly concerned about ocean pollution, overfishing, and ocean acidification. Eliciting public awareness, concerns, and priorities can enable scientists and funders to understand how the public relates to marine environments, frame impacts, and align managerial and policy priorities with public demand.
The rapid development of adaptation as a mainstream strategy for managing the risks of climate change has led to the emergence of a broad range of adaptation policies and management strategies globally. However, the success of such policies or management interventions depends on the effective integration of new scientific research into the decision-making process. Ineffective communication between scientists and environmental decision makers represents one of the key barriers limiting the integration of science into the decision-making process in many areas of natural resource management. This can be overcome by understanding the perceptions of end users, so as to identify knowledge gaps and develop improved and targeted strategies for communication and engagement. We assessed what one group of environmental decision makers, Australian marine protected area (MPA) managers, viewed as the major risks associated with climate change, and their perceptions regarding the role, importance, and achievability of adaptation for managing these risks. We also assessed what these managers perceived as the role of science in managing the risks from climate change, and identified the factors that increased their trust in scientific information. We do so by quantitatively surveying 30 MPA managers across 3 Australian management agencies. We found that although MPA managers have a very strong awareness of the range and severity of risks posed by climate change, their understanding of adaptation as an option for managing these risks is less comprehensive. We also found that although MPA managers view science as a critical source of information for informing the decision-making process, it should be considered in context with other knowledge types such as community and cultural knowledge, and be impartial, evidence based, and pragmatic in outlining policy and management recommendations that are realistically achievable.
California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) off the coast of Southern California are known to damage both commercial and recreational fishing activities, causing decreases to fish catch and damage to gear. Their increasing population has intensified the potential for conflict between sea lions and anglers, likely requiring changes to current legislation. The recreational fishing community in Southern California is a valuable and largely underutilized source for information and potential solutions to management and legislative problems. This recreational fishing survey-based study conducted in 2013 utilized personal interviews, conducted in the field with recreational anglers and commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) crews in Southern California, to gather data on: (a) the occurrence and impact of sea lion depredation on the local fishing, (b) angler awareness and opinions on current legislation, and (c) the conflict between fishing activities and conservation efforts. Results show that surveyed CPFV operators and private boaters had the most conflict with sea lions and perceive them as more of a problem than anglers on piers, jetties or kayaks. The conflict was also reportedly more prevalent in San Diego County compared to the other counties surveyed (Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura). Participating CPFV operators were overwhelmingly in support of a government culling program for sea lions, while recreational angler respondents did not feel that a control program was necessary. These CPFV operators reported more money lost, and were willing to pay more for an effective deterrent device. There was also a consensus among respondents that fish catch is declining, yet anglers were unsatisfied with the effectiveness of current legislation designed to increase fish stocks. These data will provide a better understanding of California sea lion depredation in Southern California and its effect on recreational anglers in order to aid future mitigation efforts. Additionally, these results provide stakeholder feedback on local marine protected areas and other fisheries management legislation, and build a foundation for future conservation and education programs.
A crucial factor in the success of protected areas and conservation efforts in general is the support amongst the adjacent community. It is thought to be especially crucial for the success of small MPAs. Whilst the importance of community support has been highlighted in a number of studies, it has not yet been clearly defined or explicitly studied. Questionnaires were carried out (N=166) at three different villages within the Visayas region of the Philippines to determine individuals׳ support towards adjacent MPAs and individual characteristics that have previously been hypothesised to influence support. Multiple regressions analysis determined: (1) Which individual-level factors predict attitude towards MPAs, (2) whether attitudes of individuals are related to actions that benefit the adjacent MPA and (3) whether individual or community-level factors are better predictors of individual support for local community-based MPAs. Knowledge of MPA objectives, perceived participation in decision making, trust towards other fishers and differences between villages all significantly predicted attitudes towards MPAs. Weak relationships were found between attitudes and certain MPA related actions due to contextual factors. Village was not the only significant predictor of both attitudes and MPA related actions; individual characteristics irrespective of differences between villages, were also important in predicting support for the MPA. This study highlights the importance in distinguishing between attitudes and actions of individuals and suggests specific individual characteristics can be vital in influencing support towards MPAs.
Increasing anthropogenic pressure in the offshore marine environment highlights the need for improved management and conservation of offshore ecosystems. This study scrutinises the applicability of a discrete choice experiment to value the expected benefits arising from the conservation of an offshore sandbank in UK waters. The valuation scenario refers to the UK part of the Dogger Bank, in the southern North Sea, and is based on real-world management options for fisheries, wind farms and marine protection currently under discussion for the site. It is assessed to what extent the general public perceive and value conservation benefits arising from an offshore marine protected area. The survey reveals support for marine conservation measures despite the general public's limited prior knowledge of current marine planning. Results further show significant values for an increase in species diversity, the protection of certain charismatic species and a restriction in the spread of invasive species across the site. Implications for policy and management with respect to commercial fishing, wind farm construction and nature conservation are discussed.
We determine the effects of various management restrictions on adoption rates of marine Payments for Environmental Services (PES) schemes. Choice experiments are used in order to determine how fisher participation rates change under different marine PES programme designs. Various designs, with differing restriction rates, show different rates of adoption. However, fishers show a high utility loss associated with any move away from the current management situation, irrespective of restriction levels. This indicates that PES scheme costs may be high and creating an enabling environment could be important to reducing perceived losses, as could investment into conditional in-kind compensation mechanisms. The paper also shows choice experiments to be a useful tool in marine PES design.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established over the world to protect marine resources from over-exploitation. Weh Island, Sabang, Indonesia, has two MPAs: Weh Island Marine Recreational Park (WMRP) and Weh Island Marine Protected Area (WMPA). The WMRP was established by the Government of Indonesia in 1982 and is managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency in the Ministry of Forestry. The other, WMPA, was established in 2010 and is managed by the Government of Sabang׳s Marine Affairs and Fisheries Agency. First, this study reviews the regulations of the two MPAs. There are 17 regulations related to the management of the two MPAs. WMRP is governed centrally based on Law No. 32, and the WMPA has shifted to a bottom-up system based on Fisheries Law No. 31. In addition, the customary management system called Panglima Laot, which literally translates to “Sea Commander” functions for local residents. Second, 185 questionnaires were completed by government offices, non-governmental organizations, fishermen, and marine tourism operators from January to September 2013. The survey showed all respondents support the development of MPAs. More respondents in the WMPA are familiar with the MPA and received benefits from MPAs. Fishermen of the WMRP considered their participation to be low and have lower trust in the government. The participants in the WMRP considered that “support of all stakeholders׳ awareness of the marine environment” is most important. On the other hand, “improved understanding of benefits from MPAs” was an influential factor in the WMPA. To further strengthen the management of MPAs, the stakeholders should work together to apply a bottom-up management system, clarify the zoning, set educational programs to inform public perceptions, ensure enforcement capacity, conduct scientific research on the resource, and develop a network of MPAs in the long term.