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Social license through citizen science: a tool for marine conservation

Rachel Kelly, Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Deutscher Platz 5e, D-04103 Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany; Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, Hobart 7001, Tasmania; Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
Aysha Fleming, Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, Hobart 7001, Tasmania; CSIRO Land and Water, Castray Esplanade, Hobart, Tasmania 7004, Australia
Gretta T Pecl, Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, Hobart 7001, Tasmania; Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
Anett Richter, Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Deutscher Platz 5e, D-04103 Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany
Aletta Bonn, Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstraße 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Deutscher Platz 5e, D-04103 Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany; Institue of Biodiversity, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Dornburger Str. 159, 07743 Jena, Germany

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10704-240116

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Abstract

Active and meaningful public engagement is necessary to foster informed and publicly accepted natural resource management. Citizen science presents an important avenue by which to achieve such engagement. Citizen science is the active involvement of the public in science to address scientific questions, often of common interest or concern, by collecting and analyzing data, and publishing and communicating science via diverse outlets. Here, we explore whether and how citizen science can also play a role in generating social license for marine conservation, using European marine citizen science as a case study. Social license is a concept that reflects community views and expectations on the use and management of natural resources. To date, social license in the marine space has largely focused on public perceptions of industrial and extractive uses of the marine environment, and limited research has explored social license for conservation. We highlight important linkages between social license and citizen science that can work synergistically to support conservation. We use in-depth qualitative interviews and a semiquantitative online survey of marine citizen science coordinators to investigate how citizen science can play a role in enhancing social license and the mechanisms through which it can occur. Our findings indicate that citizen science can enhance social license by improving ocean literacy and marine citizenship. We demonstrate that marine citizen science has considerable potential to generate and develop social license for marine conservation in Europe and elsewhere.

Key words

citizen science; marine conservation; ocean literacy; social license

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087