Knowledge, Attitudes and Perceptions of Management Strategies and Regulations

Commercial Fishers, Dive Operators and Environmental Group Members

photo of coral and a fish

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In 1995-96, a baseline study was conducted by researchers from the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) and the University of Florida on the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions or the proposed management strategies and regulations for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). Three user groups were selected: commercial fishers, dive operators, and members of local environmental groups. Issues addressed included sources and usefulness of information; knowledge of purposes of the FKNMS zones; attitudes about FKNMS processes to create and enforce management strategies and regulations; perceptions on FKNMS zones expected beneficiaries and outcomes; attitudes on support for FKNMS zones; and attitudes on support for FKNMS performance and general support for FKNMS. In addition, socioeconomic profiles were also obtained for each user group. The baseline study was funded by the U.S. Man and the Biosphere Program, and components of the study were published by Florida Sea Grant and in several peer reviewed journals. The study was accepted into the Socioeconomic Research & Monitoring Program at a workshop to design the program in 1998, and workshop participants recommended that the study be replicated every ten years. Results of the study were published by Florida Sea Grant and several peer reviewed journals.

A 10-year replication was conducted in 2004-05 (commercial fishers) 2006 (dive operators) and 2007 (environmental group members) by the same researchers at RSMAS, while the University of Florida researchers were replaced by Thomas J. Murray & Associates, Inc., which conducted the commercial fishing panels in the FKNMS. The 10-year replication study was funded by NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program.

The study not only makes 10-year comparisons in the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of FKNMS management strategies and regulations, but it also establishes new baselines for future monitoring efforts. Things change, and following the principles of “adaptive management”, management has responded with changes in the management plan strategies and regulations. Some of the management strategies and regulations that were being proposed at the time of the baseline 1995-96 study were changed before the management plan and regulations went into effect in July 1997. This was especially true for the main focus of the study which was the various types of marine zones in the draft and final zoning action plan. Some of the zones proposed were changed significantly and subsequently new zones have been created.

This study includes 10-year comparisons of socioeconomic/demographic profiles of each user group; sources and usefulness of information; knowledge of purposes of FKNMS zones; perceived beneficiaries of the FKNMS zones; views on FKNMS processes to develop management strategies and regulations; views on FKNMS zone outcomes; views on FKNMS performance; and general support for FKNMS. In addition to new baseline information on FKNMS zones, new baseline information was developed for spatial use, investment and costs-and-earnings for commercial fishers and dive operators, and views on resource conditions for all three user groups. Statistical tests were done to detect significant changes in both the distribution of responses to questions and changes in mean scores for items replicated over the 10-year period.