Successful conservation can be strongly influenced by how stakeholders perceive environmental issues and their attitudes towards governance. For this reason we wanted to gain an understanding of how the relevant stakeholders in our study area view marine environmental issues and policies. A wide range of environmental issues were identified as part of our literature review and these were used in a 10 question survey. I conducted in person interviews at eight different locations in West Cork and an online survey was also sent to relevant parties. People were very happy to help with the research and give their time.
Analysis of the questionnaire produced some very interesting results. Out of the thirteen environmental issues listed, stakeholders were most informed and concerned about marine pollution/litter, climate change, and overfishing/depletion of stocks (Fig. 2). Issues such as ocean acidification, invasive species, ecotourism, and scientific research did not feature highly in people’s cognizance.
Could this be because some of these issues are being communicated more effectively than others? Stakeholder familiarity with regard to the policies that are in place to safeguard the integrity of our ocean and coastline was not high. The majority of people had no knowledge of current policies and this indicates that more conversation needs to take place. The questionnaire has been very informative and has helped suggest what our next steps should be. For now, an important dialogue in our study area has begun which is exciting!
You can find further information on the sites selected for inclusion in the surveys through the following link.
A copy of the questionnaire can be also be accessed here.