Misconceptions, lack of knowledge, and negative attitudes towards sharks act as barriers preventing actions required to tackle threats to shark populations, limiting the success of global shark conservation initiatives. Peru, a major player for the international trade of shark products, recently approved the ‘National Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras’ (PAN-Tib); a guiding document for conservation initiatives aimed at these fishes. Within PAN-Tib, the assessment of Peruvians’ current knowledge and attitudes towards sharks is listed as a research priority. Between June and October 2016, 2004 Peruvians were surveyed along the coast to characterize their (i) shark meat consumption patterns, and (ii) knowledge and attitudes towards sharks. Results suggest that shark meat consumption is extended, but not necessarily frequent, and higher in the northern regions of the country. However, 77.5% of shark meat consumers were unaware that they had eaten sharks. Although 57.6% of the participants recognized that sharks are present in Peruvian waters, only 19.4% of the surveyed population was capable of naming at least one local shark species. Moreover, Peruvians have very negative attitudes towards sharks. They fear them and view them as man-eaters, despite this, no shark attacks have ever been reported in the country. These results highlight the need to: (i) encourage sustainable shark meat consumption, and (ii) promote communication campaigns aimed at increasing knowledge about sharks, and their importance as a source of employment and food for coastal communities, as for the national economy.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
The global marine environment degradation is strongly related to the unsustainable use of the marine living resources and the ineffective conservation policies. Assessing individual's general perceptions of marine biodiversity may contribute to the implementation of successful conservation policies within the existing social-cultural context. The present work investigates citizens' assigned values for ecosystem services, perceived threats, and attitudes toward marine biodiversity in a Greek coastal port city, Thessaloniki. We used the Social Values Indicators for ecosystem services list of items to measure values, a revised form of the Ocean Attitudes Questionnaire to assess attitudes toward the marine environment, and adopted items from past research to explore the perceived threats to the marine environment. Exploratory Factor Analysis revealed the structure of the constructs. Τhe results showed positive attitudes towards marine biodiversity while participants recognized the contribution of marine biodiversity to both ecological balance and economic development. Pollution from industry and farming were identified as the most important threats to the marine environment. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) were used to confirm the structure of the constructs and assess the relationships between attitudes, threats, and values. The results indicated that use values are strongly but negatively related to ecological attitudes and perceived threats, while non-use values are significantly and positively related to attitudes and threats. The utility of these results for designing effective policy implementations that incorporate public perceptions is discussed.
Australian wild-catch fishers believe their industry is vulnerable given recent government reforms limiting their access to marine resources and that these decisions reflect public opposition to its practices. This paper presents research that assessed the social acceptability of the wild-catch industry and key influences on those public judgements. Contrary to expectations, survey data revealed a relatively high level of social acceptability for the industry. However, public trust was linked to respondents believing the industry was being effectively regulated and could demonstrate strong environmental stewardship. Negative judgements were linked to respondents with strong environmental values and beliefs about the importance of reducing the industry's environmental impacts. Accepting attitudes towards the industry were linked to higher trust in the fishing industry to sustain future fish stocks and protect marine animals. Australia's wild-catch commercial fishing industry can improve its trustworthiness by continually upgrading environmental stewardship practices and tailoring their engagement with key audiences.
Resource users’ perceptions are crucial for successful marine governance because they affect community support, participation and legitimacy. Efforts have been made to understand how fishers’ attitudes, understandings and interpretations of the environment and its governance emerge in small-scale fisheries. However, many quantitative studies have focussed on how individual-level attributes like socio-demographics are associated with perceptions, ignoring a fundamental scale at which humans arrive at their views about the world – the social group. In multi-gear fisheries, fishers typically cluster in two overlapping types of group: occupational groups (defined by fishing gear) and village communities. Taking into account also individual-level variables, which group type is more associated with particular environmental and governance perceptions, e.g. about change in fish stocks, collective action or appropriate management actions? Through questionnaires in combination with multivariate and multi-model inference, this study reveals that, among fishers in two villages in Zanzibar (n = 172), village is more associated with perceptions than occupational group or any other factor. Further, individual attributes like education and age influence perceptions. The main finding implies that the role of social-cultural processes might have been underestimated in quantitative research on research users’ perceptions. This has consequences for policy and research and shows that both can be informed by statistical analyses that disentangles effects of different levels of group belonging.
This paper presents the results of a face-to-face survey of the attitudes of Polish fishermen towards Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP). Fishermen's self-assessed knowledge regarding MSP and their expectations were analysed. The conclusion reached shows that, despite similar access to information about MSP, Polish fishermen are less knowledgeable, more sceptical and more fearful of the MSP, than the other stakeholders involved. As a result, better education or more information on MSP would not suffice in making fishermen overcome their scepticism on the planning outcomes. In addition, the governing bodies of MSP should build trust and awareness, stimulate the stakeholders' interests in MSP, and convince the fishermen that MSP is friendly towards this specific sector. These findings did influence the MSP process in Poland, wherein MSP outreach was offered to the targeted groups of fishermen in the form of trust-building measures. A key lesson learned is that a capacity building process should be administered in such a way that the fishermen may easily distinguish it from other governance measures (e.g. under fishery or environment policy). An international component can play an important role in it. In conclusion, a number of observations are proposed with regard to future research on the attitudes of fishermen towards MSP. In particular, greater effort is necessary to better understand the motives of fishermen's scepticism towards the impact of MSP on their sector.
Coastal resource management (CRM) programs have been implemented in the Philippines since the 1980s with the specific intent to protect and rehabilitate coastal habitats and enhance the sustainability of coastal communities. However, the implementation of these programs alone does not guarantee the success of program objectives. Monitoring and evaluation of program outcomes is essential for determining if programs are effective in reaching management goals. The purpose of this research was to evaluate long-term CRM programs using community perceptions of coastal resource condition, management practices, and program outcomes. Coastal residents in Baybay City, Leyte were surveyed and asked to rank a series of questions related to resource condition and 20 previously described management performance indicators. Respondents reported a decline in coastal resource condition over the past decade, even though they perceive positive outcomes of management programs aimed at enhancing resource condition. The sustainability and efficiency of management outcomes were perceived positively, with mixed views on equity outcomes. Results suggest that lack of full inclusion, low management oversight, and threat to coastal resources are concerns of the coastal community. Socioeconomic data collected from respondents yielded a pattern indicating that gender, self-reported level of environmental knowledge, and management cluster were significant contextual variables associated with perceptions of respondents. Overall, CRM programs are perceived to have a positive impact and there is a high level of interest for participating in future management activities. This study exemplifies how perceptions and associated contextual information of the community provides invaluable insights into the effectiveness of coastal resource management and be incorporated into the adaptive management cycle.
The conservation community is increasingly focusing on the monitoring and evaluation of management, governance, ecological, and social considerations as part of a broader move toward adaptive management and evidence‐based conservation. Evidence is any information that can be used to come to a conclusion and support a judgment or, in this case, to make decisions that will improve conservation policies, actions, and outcomes. Perceptions are one type of information that is often dismissed as anecdotal by those arguing for evidence‐based conservation. In this paper, I clarify the contributions of research on perceptions of conservation to improving adaptive and evidence‐based conservation. Studies of the perceptions of local people can provide important insights into observations, understandings and interpretations of the social impacts, and ecological outcomes of conservation; the legitimacy of conservation governance; and the social acceptability of environmental management. Perceptions of these factors contribute to positive or negative local evaluations of conservation initiatives. It is positive perceptions, not just objective scientific evidence of effectiveness, that ultimately ensure the support of local constituents thus enabling the long‐term success of conservation. Research on perceptions can inform courses of action to improve conservation and governance at scales ranging from individual initiatives to national and international policies. Better incorporation of evidence from across the social and natural sciences and integration of a plurality of methods into monitoring and evaluation will provide a more complete picture on which to base conservation decisions and environmental management.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) conserve marine biodiversity and ecosystems by limiting or prohibiting resource use in specific areas. Reduced access to a marine resource will invariably impact local communities which reside nearby and utilise those resources. Social dimensions are recognised as crucial to the success of MPAs in meeting environmental goals, however, these dimensions are poorly understood. While much research is focused on developing countries, the majority of recent growth in MPA coverage is occurring in more economically developed settings. This research aims to address this gap by exploring the diversity of social impacts associated with an established MPA on the mid-coast of Western Australia. A range of extractive and non-extractive stakeholders were interviewed to identify the type of impacts experienced and how these are associated with attitudes towards the MPA. The results demonstrate there is a strong association between the nature of the impacts experienced by stakeholders and their attitudes. The social impacts are not distributed uniformly among stakeholders, with some groups of extractive users suffering the majority of the negative impacts and holding highly critical attitudes. The most common adverse impacts affect individual users’ well-being including feelings of fear, stress, uncertainty and inequity, while impacts on fishing activities are limited. Those who reported broader scale community or environmental benefits held largely positive assessments of the MPA. Together these results illustrate the importance of identifying and mitigating the full spectrum of social impacts experienced, as opposed to a narrow focus on the disruption of fishing activities or socio-economic impacts alone.
Coastal areas are under increasing pressure from rapid human population growth, yet empirical research on the effect of migration on coastal and marine resources is scarce. We contribute to this understudied literature by conducting an original household survey in a coastal region of Southeastern Ghana. This study employs two proxies for pro-environmental behavior that have not, to our knowledge, been used in the context of coastal migration, to explicitly compare migrant and non-migrant populations. Environmental attitudes toward coastal resources and individual extraction behavior in common-pool resource (CPR) experiments have shown broad relevance in the literature to understand natural resource decision making. We found that migrants in general did not differ significantly from non-migrants in relation to their environmental attitudes or their extraction behavior in the CPR game. However, when focusing on migrant fishers only, results suggested that this subgroup was less concerned about the utilization of coastal resources than non-migrant fishers and behaved less cooperatively in the CPR experiment. These findings, though, held true only for the subgroup of fishers, and could not be found for other occupational groups. Therefore, we conclude that migrants do not per se value coastal resources less or cooperate less in CPR situations, but that socioeconomic characteristics, and particularly their occupational status and their relation to the resource, matter.
Compliance is critical for effective conservation, and non-compliance regularly negates the desired outcomes of the world's marine protected areas. To increase compliance, practitioners must understand why resource users are breaking the rules, why these behaviours continue to occur, and how to effectively confront non-compliance. This study interviewed 682 recreational fishers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) to examine the social components of compliance management. These components included fisher's perceptions of non-compliance, or poaching (defined here as fishing in no-take zones), as well as the beliefs, attitudes, normative influences, consumptive orientation and perceived behavioural controls that may influence fisher's decisions to poach. Encouragingly, most fishers had high perceptions of the legitimacy of management agencies and thought poaching was socially and personally unacceptable. However, these findings suggest that four (mis)perceptions or mechanisms are likely operative and at least partially responsible for continued non-compliance by fishers. These included pluralistic ignorance, false consensus, social learning, and a perceived lack of deterrence. Numerous tools can be used to address and correct these perceptions, including social norms and influence approaches, strengthened coercive deterrence measures, fear-arousing communications, and social outreach. If properly implemented, these tools and approaches should not only increase compliance but also reduce support (whether active or passive) for a culture of non-compliance.