Assessing public awareness of marine environmental threats and conservation efforts

Highlights

• Public engagement is key to conservation success.
• A well informed public can increase support in conservation efforts.
• Identified knowledge gaps within the public in marine conservation efforts.
• Value-Action Gap present within the public in Cornwall, UK.
• Improved, interdisciplinary science communication can increase public engagement.

Abstract

To successfully integrate and engage the general public into marine conservation decisions it is important that individuals are well informed. This study surveyed two sample groups, marine environmental professionals working in the UK, n = 61, and members of the public surveyed in Truro, Cornwall, UK, n = 71. Public awareness of marine environmental threats and conservation efforts was assessed through comparison with the, assumed well informed, professional sample. Findings suggest that the public are generally well informed of threats to the marine environment, but are significantly less well informed about marine conservation and management strategies. Furthermore, despite indicating concern for the marine environment, members of the public display significantly fewer pro-environmental behaviours than marine conservation professionals. Public knowledge (and action) gaps are discussed as well as how these may be minimised, including a more interdisciplinary and active approach to science communication and public engagement.

Easman E. S., Abernethy K. E. & Godley B. J., 2018. Assessing public awareness of marine environmental threats and conservation efforts. Marine Policy 87: 234-240. Article (subscription required).

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