2014 International Marine Conservation Congress Meeting

Ocean Tipping Points team member Adrian Stier presented at the 2014 International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) meeting in Glasgow, Scotland in August, 2014 about his talk entitled "Differences in Perception Not (Necessarily) Values Produce Conservation Conflict." Here, Adrian reflects on the experience: 

“My background and experience presenting and participating in scientific conferences have almost entirely emphasized findings focused on basic ecology. As such, my pivot to asking applied ecological questions with the Tipping Points team has been an exciting new experience. IMCC was my first opportunity to exposé my new conservation oriented research focused on our herring research in Haida Gwaii and our trip to Glasgow Scotland did not disappoint. The conference was unique because it brought together investigators, students, and representatives from academia, NGOs, and government agencies that work on a variety of subjects and study systems. Our poster was a huge success, attracting a number of views before, during, and after the poster session and it was exciting to share our findings as well as pass along the new mental modeler tools we have been learning to other interested visitors. We got some great constructive feedback on the project and are now engaging with our core OTP group to push forward in finalizing analyses and writing up our project as a scientific manuscript. Overall our work with this particular project on expert opinions contributing to conservation conflicts, as well as research presented by other team members including Jameal Samhouri, Phil Levin, Rebecca Martone, Larry Crowder, and Crow White made the conference a huge success, and I am excited to present our final results at the Western Society of Naturalists Meeting in Washington in November!”

Differences in Perception Not (Necessarily) Values Produce Conservation Conflict.
Stier A.C.1, Samhouri J.F.2, Levin P.S.2, Gray S.3, Martone R.4, Mach M. 4, Scarborough C.1,
Kappel C.1, Hunsicker M.1, and B. Halpern1 
1National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 2Northwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, 3University of Massachusetts, 4Center for Ocean Solution, Stanford University

Conflict among agencies, NGOs, and industry can impede successful implementation of conservation and management objectives. Environmental conflict typically emerges from stakeholders groups that (1) differ in values, (2) vary in levels of trust of one another or in management agencies, and/or (3) have different perceptions of how changes in management strategy will affect ecosystem services. Here we describe how variation in perceived ecosystem structure among scientific experts from different backgrounds provides insight into conflict surrounding the pacific herring fishery in British Columbia. Instead of a typical approach that assumes conflict originates from individuals who come from different backgrounds, we offer an alternative strategy that first evaluates how each individual perceives the ecosystem and then clusters individuals based on how their system responds to simulated management strategies. Our approach demonstrates that background characteristics poorly predict variable perceptions. Instead individuality drives variation in perceived ecosystem structure and function. Some management scenarios exhibit limited evidence for polarized opinions, but divergent groups emerge when it comes to herring. Our findings demonstrate that individuality instead of background characteristics underlies variation in perceived food web structure, and that alignment of experts based on shared experiences poorly predicts how experts perceive herring-centric food webs recovery following collapse.