Perceptions and attitudes regarding marine reserves: A comparison of stakeholder groups in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Daniel Suman, Manoj Shivlani, J. Walter Milon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) developed a zoning plan as part of its overall management plan, fully implemented as of 1997. The plan created several closed areas or harvest refugia in which consumptive activities are prohibited. This research reports results of surveys that we conducted with members of three stakeholder groups in the Florida Keys: commercial fishers, dive operators, and members of local environmental groups. Surveys requested responses regarding the information sources individuals tapped when learning of the zoning plan and the FKNMS; their degree of public participation; their perceptions and acceptance of the zoning strategy and the process of its design; and the expected outcomes of the zoning strategy. Many responses show significant differences among the three groups. Fishers felt highly alienated from the process of zone designation and displayed a sense of anger and powerlessness with respect to what they considered to be an attempt to exclude their group from the harvest refugia. Dive operators demonstrated the highest levels of participation in the designation process, but were concerned that refugia regulations could limit their activities in the future. Members of environmental groups were the strongest supporters of the harvest refugia concept and the FKNMS. This research suggests numerous ways in which marine resource managers could improve their public outreach and information dissemination strategies when developing future harvest refugia and marine protected areas. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1040
Number of pages22
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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