Thesis: The influence of community impacts and environmental values on attitudes towards Marine Parks: A case study at Jurien Bay, Western Australia
This research aims to explore the variety of social impacts associated with a well-established multiple-use Marine Park case study at Jurien Bay, Western Australia, managed by the State Government. The project will establish how positive and negative impacts associated with the Marine Park are distributed amongst and between stakeholder groups and local community members. The communities’ attitudes towards the Marine Park will be gauged to investigate how local experience, perceived social impacts, and stakeholder beliefs and values may influence opinions. A mix of qualitative and quantitative research techniques including key informants, survey, semi structured interviews and secondary data sources will be used to record the perceptions of local community members.
Why my research is important
In today’s world where the concept of ‘sustainability’ has moved from buzz word to policy objective, a truly interdisciplinary approach is needed to advance the three pillared goal of supporting the global economy, its people and the environment. From a marine ecosystems perspective, deteriorating health has led to the creation of a global target to conserve 10% of coastal and marine ecosystems in protected areas by the year 2020. These designated ‘Marine Protected Areas’ (MPAs), also known as marine reserves and marine parks, will invariably impact the local communities which live near and depend on the marine resources targeted for conservation. To be truly sustainable, policies such as these must take into account the associated impacts on people and local economies.
It has been recognised that achieving biological objectives for MPAs is closely linked with these initiatives’ abilities to satisfy and support the people involved. However, from a scientific perspective the interactions between MPAs and the communities they affect are poorly understood and not highly prioritised in ongoing monitoring programs. The diverse range of positive and negative experiences can play an important role in driving perceptions of fairness, equity, suitability and acceptance of the initiative. A greater understanding of these impacts and community attitudes is invaluable as they influence stakeholder behaviour and community tolerance of MPAs, and ultimately the effectiveness of conservation strategies.