Use and protection of the Gulf Islands marine environment : residents' attitudes, perceptions and values




McCallum, David Elliott

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Recent concerns about the health of marine environments have led to the worldwide creation of new marine conservation initiatives. Multiple-use marine protected areas (MPAs) are one potential solution; however, they may be perceived by some as 'economic sterilizers' and threats to certain livelihoods, such as marine tourism or aquaculture. For instance, shellfish growers may perceive MPAs as favouring tourism as an economic activity, attracting recreational boaters who may inflict a negative impact on shellfish health through sewage or chemical discharge. Conversely, recreational boaters may perceive shellfish aquaculture as a threat to safe navigation and desirable anchorages. One significant challenge for resource managers then, is to design MPAs in ways that are acceptable to different stakeholder groups. This research, a partial application of the "Limits of Acceptable Change" (LAC) visitor management framework, examines acceptability of recreational boating and shellfish aquaculture within a proposed MPA from a community stakeholder perspective. This study examined Gulf Islands residents’ attitudes, perceptions and values towards the Gulf Islands marine environment. Gaining a clear understanding of the views of stakeholders is key in allowing coastal planners and marine resource managers to proceed effectively towards achieving their mandates. Specifically, this knowledge allows them to (1) identify what is important to different users; (2) determine public relations needs; (3) justify management decisions; (4) promote resource protection; (5) identify potential conflict areas; and (6) address negative concerns and build on positive perceptions. This project samples the views of a random selection of residents (n = 302) from Thetis. Salt Spring and Saturna Islands during the summer of 2004. This research applies respondents' values towards the marine environment as an independent variable in the analysis of (1) perceptions of threats towards the marine environment; (2) attitudes towards recreational boating and sewage from boating; (3) attitudes towards shellfish aquaculture: and (4) attitudes towards different strategies for zoning the marine environment.



marine resources, conservation, public opinion, shellfish culture, Gulf Islands, British Columbia