Environmental Management

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 848–859 | Cite as

Attitudinal Factors and Personal Characteristics Influence Support for Shellfish Aquaculture in Rhode Island (US) Coastal Waters

  • Tracey M. Dalton
  • Di Jin


This study explores public interests associated with shellfish aquaculture development in coastal waters of Rhode Island (US). Specifically, we examine (1) the levels of public support for (or opposition to) shellfish aquaculture development and (2) factors driving the levels of support, using survey data and ordinal logistic regressions. Results of the analysis identify several key attitudinal factors affecting individual’s support for shellfish aquaculture in Rhode Island (RI). The level of support is positively associated with attitudes related to shellfish aquaculture’s benefits to the local economy and its role as a nutritional food option, and negatively influenced by attitudes related to aquaculture farms’ effects on aesthetic quality and their interference with other uses. Findings highlight that support for (or opposition to) aquaculture in RI is driven more by attitudes associated with social impacts than by those associated with environmental impacts. The level of support is also affected by personal characteristics related to an individual’s participation in recreational activities. For instance, bicycle riders tend to be supportive of shellfish aquaculture while respondents who participate in sailing and birding are less supportive. By identifying the broader public’s interests in shellfish aquaculture, findings from this study and others like it can be used to address public concerns, incorporate public perceptions and attitudes into permitting decisions, and develop outreach targeted at specific stakeholder groups.


Aquaculture Shellfish Public interest Environmentally significant behavior 



We thank Joseph Dwyer, Allie Katzanek, Sarina Lyon, and Maria Vasta for help with data collection. This research was funded by the Rhode Island Sea Grant (NA14OAR4170082) with additional support from the URI College of Environment and Life Sciences and the Marine Policy Center at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine AffairsUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.Marine Policy CenterWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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