Managers of marine protected areas (MPAs) are constantly challenged to encourage positive user behaviour to minimise impacts on marine ecosystems while allowing recreational use. Yet, some marine users continue to act in ways that diminish conservation values of the area. Drawing on social psychological theories, this paper presents a case for informed behaviour change strategies to reduce problem behaviours in MPAs and contribute to conservation efforts. Social psychological drivers of behaviour are explained and applied to an MPA context to demonstrate how they can inform strategies for predicting and changing behaviour using persuasive communication. As behavioural and persuasive communication theories are seldom invoked and almost never rigorously applied to MPAs, the review offers new theoretical and practical insights into how they can assist MPA management to target and shift specific behaviours that ultimately support marine park values.
Community Perceptions and Attitudes
Coastal litter is a source of environmental, economic and health-related problems in many parts of the world, but local responses are not necessarily related to the severity of the impacts. In particular, it is unclear how environmental perception of community members and government bodies relate to active engagement on coastal pollution. The present study analyses the coastal litter situation and evaluates the willingness of citizens to engage at four sites (three regions of mainland Chile, and Easter Island; henceforth Rapa Nui) that feature differences in culture, economy sectors and landscape characteristics. Data on coastal litter were obtained from citizen science campaigns and assessments of large litter accumulations on beaches and rocky shores. The willingness to engage was evaluated qualitatively, considering municipal planning documents and the perception of residents on coastal litter and general waste management. We found very large quantities of litter in northern Chile, posing a hazard to marine wildlife and human health, and moderate quantities in the other regions. The region with the most severe case of coastal pollution does not feature the highest engagement, possibly a result of underlying factors such as an unsustainable economy and few possibilities for the population to connect with the natural environment. On mainland Chile, municipal engagement is low to moderate while on Rapa Nui there exist integrated waste-management strategies that address coastal pollution. Inhabitants of Rapa Nui seem to have a better conduct in the coastal environment (picking up litter, littering less), and show more engagement in waste-reduction strategies (recycling, volunteering for beach clean-ups). We suggest that the unique cultural history of the island, a landscape that allows meaningful interaction with nature and an economy based on sustainable tourism and high international visibility facilitates engagement on environmental issues. We advise managers to consider respective underlying variables, to create environments that allow contact with nature (e.g. public access to parks), and to encourage bottom-up initiatives, preferably by local actors (e.g. by promoting already engaged individuals or organisations).
The Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation (CCEF), a Philippine environmental organization, in collaboration with Region 7 municipality leaders from Cebu, Leyte, and Bohol, as well as various financial donors, is striving to improve the marine resource management of the Outer Danajon Bank in the Philippines. One of the goals is to develop scuba dive tourism along the Outer Bank, beginning with the municipality of Bien Unido on Bohol Island. Despite previous efforts to attract investors and tourists by the Bien Unido mayor, dive tourism is currently absent from the municipality. During the summer of 2011, the mayor, the CCEF, and a private real estate developer, agreed to invest in infrastructure and livelihood training in Bien Unido for the purpose of developing a scuba dive tourism industry. This study analyzes current community viewpoints on the development of dive tourism in Bien Unido and four selected dive tourist cites. The study consists of thirty-four qualitative interviews conducted in Bien Unido and four other dive tourist sites as well as 1117 quantitative surveys conducted with community members throughout the central portion of the Philippines (Region 7). This study complements the Danajon Bank Marine Park Project of the CCEF and makes recommendations to improve the management of the Danajon Bank Double Barrier coral reef with protected areas and alternative livelihood projects linked to tourism development. The interviews served to define tourism and to document the specific needs of each barangay, or community, for tourism development. The qualitative survey revealed generally positive attitudes regarding scuba dive tourism development. Nintey-one percent of respondents believe tourism will help the barangay and most would participate in selling food/drink or being a recreational tour guide for tourists. Interview and survey respondents expectations that economic benefits will outweigh any social or environmental challenges, primarily alternative livelihoods and increased revenue for the municipality. Overall, Bien Unido and Region 7 community members will likely welcome visitors to their communities due to the expected benefits regardless of other negative environmental and social externalities such as increases in resource pressures and losses of tradition. Four additional municipalities were selected as “tourism developed sites” to further explore the negative and positive impacts of dive tourism, as perceived by the barangay captains or council, over a range of five to thirty years. These findings revealed challenges that were not mentioned in Bien Unido interviews or in the Region 7 qualitative surveys including changes in the price of living, increases in drug trafficking and sex trade, and private investors controlling community decisions.
Territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs) are becoming a widely promoted tool to enhance the sustainability of small-scale fisheries. In 1991, Chile established a national coastal TURF policy that gave legal authority to assign exclusive access rights to artisanal fisher organizations. In 2014, there were several hundred TURFs decreed to fisher organizations in different biophysical and socioeconomic settings. To date, research assessing TURF implementation has generally been based on a few case studies and have had mixed results. Here, we present results from a survey of 535 fishers from 55 different artisanal fisher organizations. The survey consisted of three open-ended questions that explore users' perceptions of the main problems, benefits, and improvements concerning assigned TURFs. We also sampled 55 presidents of artisanal fisher organizations to explore how they perceived the accomplishments of TURFs. Main key problems, as perceived by fishers, include increased costs associated with surveillance and poaching, and the variability and sometimes lack of financial returns. Despite strong price drops in exported species, TURFs have provided incentives for innovation and stewardship, and fishers are generally unwilling to relinquish them. In fact, fishers define TURF benefits in multiple dimensions, which include conservation/ ecological and territorial empowerment. Fisher presidents stress that although expectations of economic benefits have not been fully realized, territorial empowerment is a critical benefit. Through the analysis of fishers' perceptions on solutions to TURFs' problems, we highlight the development of stocking activities, combining TURFs with marine reserves, food traceability, and what we call BIO+ seafood— products that have associated biodiversity benefits.
It is often assumed that issue advocacy will compromise the credibility of scientists. We conducted a randomized controlled experiment to test public reactions to six different advocacy statements made by a scientist—ranging from a purely informational statement to an endorsement of specific policies. We found that perceived credibility of the communicating scientist was uniformly high in five of the six message conditions, suffering only when he advocated for a specific policy—building more nuclear power plants (although credibility did not suffer when advocating for a different specific policy—carbon dioxide limits at power plants). We also found no significant differences in trust in the broader climate science community between the six message conditions. Our results suggest that climate scientists who wish to engage in certain forms of advocacy have considerable latitude to do so without risking harm to their credibility, or the credibility of the scientific community.
The Paranaguá Estuarine Complex (PEC), Paraná State, southern Brazil, has rich biodiversity and attracts the attention of researchers in several areas. In this region, there is a mosaic of protected areas that aim to maintain the natural heritage through regulation of the use of the area and natural resources and are also home to traditional extractive communities, such as fisherfolk. These coastal communities are dependent on local resources and are continually in contact with researchers working mainly on studies related to coastal environmental issues. However, the results generated in these studies realized in marine environment are rarely shared or discussed with these traditional communities before being taken to decision makers, which can result in conflicts between those involved, the acceptance of reduced management measures and the loss of research credibility. The objective of this article is to describe the perception of marine traditional fishermen from the village of Ilha das Peças (VIP) and the village of Ilha do Superagui (VIS), both located in the vicinity of the protected areas, regarding the scientific research conducted in the PEC. In 2012, ethnographic interviews were conducted through semi-structured questionnaires given to fisherfolk in the VIP (n = 40) and the VIS (n = 50). The level of education among the fishermen in the two villages is low, which can influence the perception of the research conducted in the region. All respondents in the VIP and VIS described not receiving reports from researchers regarding the results. Therefore, there is a feeling of dissatisfaction regarding the lines of research in general, which is extended to the funding agencies and the presence of researchers in the area, representing conflicts with the management of marine resources. According to the respondents, the research does not seek solutions to social and environmental problems but only evaluates and seeks to preserve the fauna and flora, excluding the human component of the broader ecological processes. Dialogue between scientific and traditional knowledge is essential in the joint search for effective solutions to social and environmental problems, especially in areas designated as priorities for biological conservation in the coastal environment.
Understanding and solving complex ocean conservation problems requires cooperation not just among scientific disciplines but also across sectors. A recently published survey that probed research priorities of marine scientists, when provided to ocean stakeholders, revealed some agreement on priorities but also illuminated key differences. Ocean acidification, cumulative impacts, bycatch effects, and restoration effectiveness were in the top 10 priorities for scientists and stakeholder groups. Significant priority differences were that scientists favored research questions about ocean acidification and marine protected areas; policymakers prioritized questions about habitat restoration, bycatch, and precaution; and fisheries sector resource users called for the inclusion of local ecological knowledge in policymaking. These results quantitatively demonstrate how different stakeholder groups approach ocean issues and highlight the need to incorporate other types of knowledge in the codesign of solutions-oriented research, which may facilitate cross-sectoral collaboration.
Recent coastal planning measures in south-east Portugal (Algarve), where offshore aquaculture developments were set up in fishing areas aiming to maximize expected utility of seafood production activities, raised some discontentment. Public policies created to safeguard offshore aquaculture (OSA) producers and limit small-scale fishing (SSF) activities must be adjusted accordingly in order to maximize income and keep discontentment at a minimum. We collected primary data from stakeholders, fishers (n = 18) and offshore aquaculture operators (n = 3) through participatory workshops and interviews by eliciting problematic issues derived from the offshore area creation and their relative relevance. We used these data to populate conditional probability tables and construct a related influence diagram (Bayesian belief networks) to model the affected system. We selected nine scenarios based on navigability and aquaculture area size with the aim of finding the best expected utility combinations for the OSA – SSF system. The inferred results show that maximizing employment and keep pollution at low levels were the most influential factors to keep the system at a satisfactory level. The best decision was not to enlarge the aquaculture area, but to condition the access to other operational stakeholders, namely SSF operators from nearby areas. The overall results of the Bayesian belief network can be used to recommend coastal planners and decision-makers to deal with the interaction between OSA and SSF activities.
Aquaculture is developing rapidly at a global scale and sustainable practices are an essential part of meeting the protein requirements of the ballooning human population. Locating aquaculture offshore is one strategy that may help address some issues related to nearshore development. However, offshore production is nascent and distinctions between the types of aquatic farming may not be fully understood by the public–important for collaboration, research, and development. Here we evaluate and report, to our knowledge, the first multinational quantification of the relative sentiments and opinions of the public around distinct forms of aquaculture. Using thousands of newspaper headlines (Ntotal = 1,596) from developed (no. countries = 26) and developing (42) nations, ranging over periods of 1984 to 2015, we found an expanding positive trend of general ‘aquaculture’ coverage, while ‘marine’ and ‘offshore’ appeared more negative. Overall, developing regions published proportionally more positive than negative headlines than developed countries. As case studies, government collected public comments (Ntotal = 1,585) from the United States of America (USA) and New Zealand mirrored the media sentiments; offshore perception being particularly negative in the USA. We also found public sentiment may be influenced by local environmental disasters not directly related to aquaculture (e.g., oil spills). Both countries voiced concern over environmental impacts, but the concerns tended to be more generalized, rather than targeted issues. Two factors that could be inhibiting informed discussion and decisions about offshore aquaculture are lack of applicable knowledge and actual local development issues. Better communication and investigation of the real versus perceived impacts of aquaculture could aid in clarifying the debate about aquaculture, and help support future sustainable growth.
Community acceptance of Marine Parks is widely acknowledged as being critical for success. Where community stewardship and voluntary compliance have been achieved, there are fewer issues with non-compliance of zoning regulations. Probability-based surveys that are representative of the wider community can improve understanding of community perceptions prior to and following establishment of Marine Parks. Understanding attitudes towards newly created Marine Parks among user groups provides valuable information for the design of education and engagement programs, while also creating a benchmark to compare changes over time. A survey of community perceptions and awareness regarding the recently created Ngari Capes Marine Park in south-west Western Australia was measured via a randomised telephone survey of local and non-local boat-based recreational fishers; and local residents (including non-fishers and shore/boat fishers). This survey also evaluated other recreational uses of the park and how these activities were valued, knowledge of Marine Park zones, and how information about Marine Parks was being accessed. Participation in recreational fishing within Ngari Capes was above average and a supportive attitude towards the park was apparent. Boat-based recreational fishers displayed a higher degree of concern about fishing restrictions compared to local residents, but overall were supportive of the Marine Park. Across all user groups there was low awareness of the Ngari Capes Marine Park and poor understanding of Marine Parks. A lack of clarity regarding the likely benefits of the Ngari Capes Marine Park was apparent, implying a need to improve public communication and community engagement.