A research project called “Stakeholder Attitudes, Beliefs and Values Concerning New Hampshire Marine Protected Areas” will address community issues in the Gulf of Maine’s marine protected areas, thanks to a $10,000 award from New Hampshire Sea Grant. Plymouth State University social science professors Brian Eisenhauer and Kate Donohue will lead the study, which will measure community attitudes and beliefs from a variety of constituencies within coastal communities.
The PSU professors will be partnering with the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 30 programs across the United States promoting the understanding, development, wise use and conservation of our ocean and coastal resources. New Hampshire’s Sea Grant Program is administered through the University of New Hampshire.
The PSU-Sea Grant research study is an example of one of the many partnerships between the university’s Center for the Environment (CFE) and community, governmental and academic institutions and organizations. Currently, researchers, educators and graduate students at the CFE are collaborating with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the U.S. Forest Service, the Squam Lake Association, the Northern Forest Center and Dartmouth College.
“These types of partnerships are precisely what the Center is about,” says Eisenhauer, associate director of the CFE.
During their study, Eisenhauer and Donohue will conduct 20-25 interviews with community members representing various groups with interests in marine protected areas, including members of the New England Fishery Management Council, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Yankee Fishermen’s Cooperative and the whale watch and sport fishing industry. The goal is to assess the diversity of attitudes among coastal community members regarding marine protected areas, coastal areas which are regulated in order to aid in the management of fisheries and other marine resources.
“Our focus on stakeholders’ attitudes toward marine protected areas is a very timely and important one,” said Eisenhauer and Donohue in their letter to N.H. Sea Grant. “Commercial and sport fishermen are parts of communities, as are tour operators and those who participate in those activities as tourists or researchers. The culture in which these humans live, the decisions they make and the attitudes they have can be understood through interview, survey and ethnographic techniques. They too are part of the ecosystem, and effective management of marine areas cannot be undertaken nor protected without understanding attitudes toward past processes.”
The research data from this project will be disseminated through PSU’s Center for the Environment and New Hampshire Sea Grant, as well as through environmental journals and conferences.
Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.