Melva Treviño Peña, Assistant Professor of Marine Affairs
Understanding how individuals perceive and utilize natural resources across racial, ethnic, and cultural divides is important because social identities inform how people experience and connect to the natural environment. Regarding capture fisheries, ethnicity and race influence how, why, and what people catch, and their seafood consumption rates. Research also shows that different minority groups have varying access to and understanding of environmental and health advisories and fishing regulations. This project seeks to illuminate the experiences of on-shore coastal fishers of diverse backgrounds and their uses of public coastal spaces. The main objectives of this project are to 1) identify how coastal fishery resources contribute to the well-being of diverse fishers in RI, 2) determine factors that facilitate or hinder these fishers from accessing these resources, and 3) assess their risk perception or awareness of existing environmental and health advisories and fishing regulations. While this study aims to explore the perspectives of diverse populations, special attention will be placed on Latinx coastal users. Most immigrants in RI are from Latin America and the Caribbean, and Latinxs are the fastest-growing minority group in RI. Bilingual (English and Spanish), qualitative intercept surveys will be employed to gain insight into fishing practices and behaviors among these coastal fishers in situ. The findings of this investigation will provide insight into the social, cultural, and economic value of coastal resources among diverse groups in RI. This information can be used to improve existing policies and environmental management plans, particularly by identifying strategies to implement previously underrepresented voices in future planning agendas for the state’s coastal resources. To carry out this research, Dr. Treviño Peña will be working with a graduate student, Melanie Nash (Marine Affairs), and two undergraduate students Gadiel Cedeño Severino (Political Science) and Science & Engineering Fellow Marian Gonzalez (Health Sciences).