Attitudinal Factors and Personal Characteristics Influence Support for Shellfish Aquaculture in Rhode Island (US) Coastal Waters

Tracey Dalton, Di Jin

Environmental Management. 61(5):848-859. 2018

This study explores public interests associated with shellfish aquaculture development in coastal waters of Rhode Island (US). Specifically, we examine (1) the levels of public support for (or opposition to) shellfish aquaculture development and (2) factors driving the levels of support, using survey data and ordinal logistic regressions. Results of the analysis identify several key attitudinal factors affecting individual’s support for shellfish aquaculture in Rhode Island (RI). The level of support is positively associated with attitudes related to shellfish aquaculture’s benefits to the local economy and its role as a nutritional food option, and negatively influenced by attitudes related to aquaculture farms’ effects on aesthetic quality and their interference with other uses. Findings highlight that support for (or opposition to) aquaculture in RI is driven more by attitudes associated with social impacts than by those associated with environmental impacts. The level of support is also affected by personal characteristics related to an individual’s participation in recreational activities. For instance, bicycle riders tend to be supportive of shellfish aquaculture while respondents who participate in sailing and birding are less supportive. By identifying the broader public’s interests in shellfish aquaculture, findings from this study and others like it can be used to address public concerns, incorporate public perceptions and attitudes into permitting decisions, and develop outreach targeted at specific stakeholder groups.