Shark management strategy policy considerations

Published online on 17. August 2018

Shark management strategy policy considerations: Community preferences, reasoning and speculations

Peter Simmons, Mehmet Ibrahim Mehmet


Shark management is contested and community support often influences policy. Decision makers are unlikely to be comfortable explaining policy solely based on expert advice, scientific data, or any information, if they feel out of touch with important stakeholder thinking. This study explored community attitudes to shark management and also reasons for preferences. It used Appraisal to analyse comments related to the NSW Shark Management Strategy in Twitter and public Facebook sites over one year, and focus groups with beach and ocean end-users. Most harm mitigation and research strategies were supported, with drones and Clever Buoys the preferred concepts. Mesh nets were widely criticised. The most common reasons given for strategy preferences emphasised the likelihood of harm to sharks and other marine species, cost efficiency, and likelihood that a strategy would generate fear or reassurance. Findings emphasised hope that detection, deterrent and surveillance technologies will improve efficacy of shark harm mitigation in the future. Importantly for policy makers, the findings elaborate simple preference information, revealing multidimensionality in attitudes concerning shark harm mitigation strategies, and explaining associations and thinking. The study highlights the importance of listening to communities and carefully planning and adapting policy communication.

Marine Policy, Volume 96, October 2018, Pages 111-119, DOI 10.1016/j.marpol.2018.08.010



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