Environmental Conservation


Recreational fishers' attitudes towards the 2004 rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park


a1 Fishing and Fisheries Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia 4811


With the marine environment under increasing threat from multiple sources, the ability of managers to generate support from stakeholders will be vital for the success of conservation initiatives. In 2004, a new zoning plan for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park increased no-take areas from 4.5% to 33% of the total Park area. The aims of this study were to measure recreational fishers' level of support for the plan and understand how they form attitudes towards conservation initiatives in the Park. A survey of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park recreational fishers conducted three years after implementation of the new zoning plan revealed that 68% of fishers believed that, in general, rezoning the Marine Park was a good idea, whereas 57% supported the actual zoning plan that was implemented. A majority of fishers believed that rezoning the Marine Park was necessary, that the new zoning plan had high conservation value, and that the plan had little impact on their recreational fishing activity. However, most fishers had low to moderate satisfaction with the programme used to consult the public throughout the rezoning process. Logistic regression models revealed a strong relationship between level of support for the plan and fishers' perceptions about the necessity of the plan and its conservation value, the adequacy of the consultation process, and the impact of the plan on their fishing activity. Results indicate that recreational fishers can be strong supporters of conservation initiatives in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park if these initiatives are consistent with their values, and if efforts are made to engage them in the decision making process. These results will enhance the ability of managers to generate support from the recreational fishing community for conservation initiatives in marine environments.

(Received January 15 2009)

(Accepted October 15 2009)

(Online publication December 14 2009)


c1 Correspondence: e-mail: stephen.sutton@jcu.edu.au Tel: +61 7 4781 5510 Fax: +61 7 4781 4099