A wonderful happy new year to all of our readers on Sustainable Seas! 2012 promises to be the biggest yet for the blog with plans for further expansion and coverage of sustainable marine and coastal issues around the world.
We're starting the new year with a bang.
One of the huge gaps in marine policy research is understanding the views of the public when it comes to valuing and managing the marine environment. While as engaged researchers or activists we naturally place the marine environment high within our own values - but are the the views of the public substantially different? What is the importance of public discourse?
This recent report by the European Knowseas project charts public opinion of 7000 people across 7 European countries concerning marine values and management approaches. The results highlight that while the oceans are generally low in public opinion, there is a strong call for more civil society involvement in governance. Approaches such as MPAs and marine spatial planning, while in early development, are strongly supported by the public. Views across countries differed dramatically with countries such as the UK, despite a strong maritime heritage, displaying a disconnect from the sea whereas countries such as Portugal and Spain showed a strong connection. The emerging 'ecosystem approach' was important with the public highlighting that non-economic values are as important as traditional economic outputs.
The results raise several interesting questions and consequences - notably the demand for more co-management, public involvement and democratic accountability in the governance of the coasts and seas.
We have a NEW LINK to download the report.