A two-phase approach to elicit and measure beliefs on management strategies: Fishers supportive and aware of trade-offs associated with stock enhancement
Understanding fisher beliefs and attitudes towards specific management strategies can help inform and improve fisheries management, and thus stock sustainability. Previous studies highlight a lack of fisher awareness regarding environmental issues influencing the systems they utilise and the negative impacts of specific strategies, such as stock enhancement. Our study used a two-phase approach to first elicit and then measure the strength of common fishers’ beliefs and associated attitudes regarding stock enhancement. Specifically, this research focused on recreational fishers of an estuarine crab fishery (Portunus armatus) in south-western Australia. The results demonstrate that recreational fishers believe stock enhancement could have strong positive outcomes, but also recognise that this management strategy could lead to some negative outcomes, though the latter are perceived as less likely to happen. This contrasts with previous research on fisheries stocking and demonstrates the value of using the two-phase approach to clarify fishers’ perceptions of particular management approaches. To reduce fisher dissatisfaction with management actions, careful communication on the benefits and costs of stock enhancement is recommended. Our study highlights the significance of integrating social sciences into fisheries research, and the need to better understand fishing community beliefs to ensure effective management of the fishery.
KeywordsCrustaceans Portunus armatus Recreational fisheries Restocking Social dimensions South-western Australia
Emily Ogier and Sarah Jennings from the Human Dimension Research subprogram of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation of Australia (FRDC) are thanked for their useful input as are Zoe Stewart-Yates, Denis Abagna and Kurt Krispyn for their help in conducting the surveys. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable input on the manuscript. This study was supported by funding from the FRDC (FRDC 2016/034) on behalf of the Australian Government, by Recfishwest and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development through funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and Murdoch University. All work was conducted in accordance with Murdoch University Human Ethic Permit 2017/129.
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