Assessment of Coastal Residents' Attitudes Towards Marine Aquaculture and an Evaluation of the Effects of Balanced Information Using Two Communication Channels

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Project Type: 
Research
Project Number: 
R/FMD-160
Inception Date: 
1999
Completion Date: 
2002
Theme Area: 
Coastal Communities and Economics
Sustainable Aquaculture

Participants:

Robert Robertson UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment Principal Investigator

Students Involved:

Erika Carlsen UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Greg Caporossi UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Megan Lundy UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Ivy Carlson UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Sarah Nichols UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Ann Gianoulis UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Mary Robertson UNH - Department of Sociology
Kalle Matso UNH - Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Jody Grimes UNH - Department of Sociology
Nina Stracuzi UNH - Department of Sociology
Abstract: 

The development of significant and sustainable marine aquaculture in Northern New England is largely dependent on the ability of the coastal resource managers and planners, aquaculturalists and the scientific community to effectively involve the public and stakeholder groups in the decision-making process, and their ability to communicate the many benefits of marine aquaculture to residents of coastal communities and members of key stakeholder groups.

This proposed project will use a series of methodologies to provide a better understanding of the socio-cultural constraints to the development of a more dynamic, growing and profitable aquaculture industry in the region. This understanding will be used to develop belief-targeted messages, and the project will measure the effectiveness of these belief-targeted messages in changing or enhancing the public's perceptions of marine aquaculture. In doing so, factors affecting the intention to support the development of marine aquaculture will be examined.

The results of this study will provide decision-makers with a better understanding of the important negative and positive attributes of marine aquaculture from the perspective of residents of coastal communities. This study will also assist in the development of communication programs about marine aquaculture for residents of coastal communities.

Objectives: 

1) To determine public perceptions of marine aquaculture

2) To develop belief-targeted messages about marine aquaculture using both written and video media

3) To compare the effects of the belief-targeted messages that use alternative content and media vehicles on attitudes, beliefs and support of marine aquaculture

Methodology: 

The project will consist of five mutually dependent components:

1) Project Advisory Committee -- will allow for stakeholder involvement in the project

2) Telephone Survey -- will provide an understanding of socio-cultural constraints to the development of marine aquaculture and will identify salient beliefs

3) Message Development -- the project will develop two messages for each of two media

4) Message Administration/Evaluation -- will administer the messages to a second random sample and will evaluate effects using pre-post research design

5) Action Plan -- PI and Advisory Committee will develop a plan to use results

Rationale: 

The development of significant and sustainable marine aquaculture is largely dependent on the ability of coastal resource managers and planners, aquaculturists and the scientific community to effectively involve the public and stakeholder groups in the decision-making process and their ability to communicate the many benefits of aquaculture to residents of coastal communities and members of key stakeholder groups.

Accomplishments: 
This was and remains the only study of its kind in the United States and around the world.
 
This project provided a better understanding of the attitudes of residents of coastal communities towards marine/open aquaculture. It accomplished this objective through the collection of scientifically valid data through the design and implementation of a telephone survey of statistically representative sample of New Hampshire’s coastal communities.
 
The results from the data collection initiative showed that overall survey participants were supportive of the use of the open ocean for fish farming. A majority of respondents were somewhat knowledgeable about open ocean aquaculture and most felt that aquaculture issues were important to them personally. Respondents generally held positive attitudes towards aquaculture development in New England and were overwhelmingly interested in learning more about open ocean aquaculture, including the potential benefits and environmental consequences. The most popular method of obtaining information was through a newspaper or magazine. The survey also asked respondents a series of open-ended questions asking participants to define open ocean aquaculture and to identify advantages and disadvantages of open aquaculture. These results suggest that participants were somewhat knowledgeable about open ocean aquaculture. When asked about the advantages of open ocean aquaculture, the most common response was the potential to replenish the fish stock in the ocean. When asked to provide some potential disadvantages of open ocean aquaculture, 40% of respondents did not identify any. Of those who did identify disadvantages, the most popular response centered around the idea of aquaculture being “unnatural.”
 
The advantages of aquaculture that were identified included benefits to the natural environment including preventing the depletion of wild fish stock, the harvest of fish in an environmentally “friendly” manner, and the protection of the natural habitat of wild fish.
 
Salient beliefs identified on the potential disadvantages included the impact it may have on the natural environment. Some fear the possibility of genetically inferior “farmed” fish escaping into the native fish population.
 
In order to provide individuals with a balanced view of the marine aquaculture issue and based on the salient advantages and disadvantages identified as being held by the general public, an eight-page bi-fold brochure was prepared. The brochure was then converted to a ten-minute timed Power Point presentation to allow for the comparison of the effects of the belief-targeted balanced messages that use alternative media vehicles on beliefs about and attitudes toward marine aquaculture development. The comparison between the two media suggests that persons exposed to OOA via the Power Point presentation were slightly more likely to change their attitudes towards OOA than those who received the brochure (and the control group).

Publications

Available from the National Sea Grant Library (use NHU number to search) or NH Sea Grant

Journal Article

  • Robertson, R., E. Carlsen and A. Bright (2002). Effect of information on attitudes towards offshore marine finfish aquaculture development in northern New England. Aquaculture Economics and Management 6(1/2):117-126.
  • Tango-Lowy, T. and R. Robertson (2002). Predisposition toward adoption of open ocean aquaculture by Northern New England's inshore, commerical fishermen. Human Organization 61(3):240-251.

Report

  • Robertson, R., E. Carlsen and B. Lindsay (1999). Taste test: summary report.
  • Robertson, R.A., E.L. Carlsen and M.A. Robertson (2000). Open Ocean Aquaculture telephone survey: summary report.

Book Chapter

  • Robertson, R. and M. Hall-Arber (2002). Piscataqua fishing and lobstering. In: Cross-Grained & Wiley Waters: A Guide to the Piscataqua Maritime Region, W. Jeffrey Bolster, ed., pp. 88-91.
  • Robertson, R. and E. Carlsen (2003). Knowledge, relevance and attitudes towards open ocean aquaculture in Northern New England: Summary of data from five sample surveys. In: Open Ocean Aquaculture: From Research to Commercial Reality, C.J. Bridger and B.A. Costa-Pierce, eds., pp. 73-80.

Proceeding

  • Tango-Lowy, T. and R. Robertson (1999). Assessment of tourists' attitudes toward marine aquaculture: A preliminary investigation of UNH'S Sea Grant DISCOVERY passengers. Proceedings of the Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium, Gerald Kyle, ed., pp. 242-247, Bolton Landing, N.Y., April 11-14, 1999. Gen. Tech. Rpt.-NE-269.
  • Caporossi, G. and R. Robertson (2004). New England recreational fisher's attitudes toward marine protected areas: a preliminary investigation. Global Challenges of Parks & Protected Area Management: Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Society & Resource Management, Ignazio Camarada, Mike Manfredo & Franco Mulas, eds., pp. 149-157, La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy, Oct. 10-13, 2002, published 2004.
  • Robertson, R. and E. Carlsen (2000). Effect of balanced information on attitudes towards open ocean aquaculture in New England. Proceedings of the Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium, Gerald Kyle, ed., pp. 107-111, Lake George, Bolton Landing, N.Y., April 2-4, 2000. Gen. Tech. Rpt.-NE-276.
  • Hafner, J., R. Robertson and E. Carlsen (2002). Attitudes toward New England fishers: A study of tourists to the New Hampshire seacoast. Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium, pp. 147-150, Bolton Landing, N.Y., April 13-16, 2002. GTR-NE-302.
  • Robertson, R. and G. Caporossi (2003). New England recreational fishers' attitudes toward marine protected areas: a preliminary investigation. Proceedings of the 2003 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium, pp. 121-127. GTR-NE-317.
  • Grimes, J., N. Stracuzi, R. Robertson and C. Duncan (1999). Who owns the ocean? A qualitative study of saltwater recreational fishers and open ocean aquaculture in New Hampshire. Proceedings of the Northeastern Recreation Research Synposium, Gerald Kyle, ed., pp. 400-406, Bolton Landing, N.Y., April 11-14, 1999. Gen. Tech. Rpt.-NE-269.
  • Wright, A. and R. Robertson (1999). Use of a qualitative data analysis tool to understand the relationship between recreational fishing and open ocean aquaculture development. Proceedings of the Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium, Gerald Kyle, ed., pp. 361-365, Bolton Landing, N.Y., April 11-14, 1999. Gen. Tech. Rpt-NE-269.