Friday, June 19, 2009

Stakeholder Support for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Stakeholder support for management strategies and regulations of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary grew dramatically among key user groups over a 10-year period, according to a study conducted by researchers from NOAA, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and Thomas J. Murray and Associates. The increase in support is particularly significant among commercial fishermen, the majority of whom were against the creation of the sanctuary.

“Among commercial fishermen, dive operators and environmental group members, a majority or a plurality believe that the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has benefited both the environment and community of the Florida Keys,” said Bob Leeworthy, chief economist for the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The peer-reviewed study compared perceptions of key users in a 1995-96 baseline study with users in 2006. The study was funded by NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and conducted through a partnership between the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and other government agencies and academic institutions.

The study revealed greater support for the sanctuary among the commercial fishing community, with a shift from highly negative responses to a supportive or neutral position. In the original baseline study, 78.4 percent of commercial fishermen were against the sanctuary’s creation. However, the 10-year replication survey found 42 percent were against the sanctuary, 41.7 percent supported it and 14.3 percent were neutral.

“Most commercial fishermen cited the public process that resulted in the creation of the no-take Tortugas Ecological Reserve within the Florida Keys sanctuary as the reason for changing their attitudes,” said Leeworthy. "That process really allowed the local community to have a say in the Sanctuary boundaries and regulations."

source: NOAA press release

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