Understanding audiences: making public perceptions research matter to marine conservation

Rebecca Jefferson*, Emma McKinley, Stuart Capstick, Stephen Fletcher, Holly Griffin, Martina Milanese

*Corresponding author for this work

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    There is increasing awareness of the need to meaningfully engage society in efforts to tackle marine conservation challenges. Public perceptions research (PPR) in a marine conservation context provides tools to see the sea through the multiple lenses with which society interprets both the marine environment and marine conservation efforts. Traditionally, PPR is predominantly a social science which has considerable interdisciplinarity, owing to the variety of disciplines which contribute to its delivery and benefit from its outputs. Similarly, the subjects of a marine application of PPR are diverse, and relate to public perceptions of any marine component or activity. Evidence shows this is a growing area of science, and the paper presents a qualitative approach to addressing key questions to inform the continuing development of this field through a workshop held at the Third International Marine Conservation Congress 2014. Key findings are discussed under the themes of 1) the benefits of PPR to marine conservation; 2) priorities for PPR to support marine conservation; 3) making PPR accessible to marine practitioners and policy makers; and 4) interdisciplinary research collaboration to deliver PPR. The workshop supported the development of a framework which illustrates: the key conditions which can support PPR to take place; the types of research which PPR can be used to address; the applications of PPR findings for marine conservation; and the types of marine conservation benefits which can be delivered. As PPR gains an increasing presence in marine conservation, it is hoped that this discussion and framework will support researchers and practitioners to identify opportunities for PPR to deliver benefits, and to work together to achieve these.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)61-70
    Number of pages10
    JournalOcean and Coastal Management
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


    • Framework
    • Interdisciplinary
    • Ocean optimism
    • Public engagement
    • Research priorities


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