Can policy perception influence social resilience to policy change?
Authors: N. A. Marshall
Publication Year: 2007
Journal: Fisheries Research
This paper addresses the question of whether policy perception can erode or enhance the ability of commercial fishers to be resilient to changes in fisheries policy. An understanding of the way that fishers perceive resource policies provides fisheries managers with the opportunity to refine policy design and delivery so as to better protect system resilience. Policy perception is assessed by asking commercial fishers how they perceive their level of involvement in the policy decision-making process and interpret equity, the likely socio-economic impacts, conservation effectiveness and the rate of implementation (of generic policies). Social resilience to policy change is examined by assessing a fisher's (i) perception of risk associated with change, (ii) ability to plan, learn and reorganise, (iii) ability to cope, and (iv) level of interest in change. One hundred commercial fishers in five coastal communities were quantitatively and qualitatively surveyed. A negative perception of policy was found to significantly and adversely influence the behaviour and emotional response of commercial fishers, which, as described here, influences their resilience. For policy perception to be positive and resilience to be enhanced, fishers need to be meaningfully involved in the decision-making process, change needs to be implemented at an appropriate rate, and effort is required to ensure that equity, anticipated impacts and conservation effectiveness are positively interpreted. This knowledge can assist in the development of fisheries management strategies aimed at maintaining and enhancing socio-ecological resilience.