A study to be published in the Marine Policy journal found the public poorly informed on marine protection.

A well-informed public is more likely to support environmental issues and informing the public about marine protection presents a unique challenge. People consider newspapers, in particular, a credible media source. However, newspaper articles tend to concentrate on opposing stakeholders and opinions. They are largely ineffective in conveying the significance of the local marine ecology and the economic benefits of a marine protected area. They thus help delay the establishment of marine reserves.

The authors, from Flinders University, reviewed articles from five Australian newspapers between 1999 and 2006. “We are seeing only sectoral interests – a few conservation groups, politicians from both parties, and the organised groups of commercial and recreational fishers – represented in the press,” said researcher Dr Beverley Clarke “The fact that the broader population is generally supportive of MPAs is overlooked.”

Journal Reference: Eric Compas, Beverley Clarke, Cecile Cutler and Kathy Daish. (20 April 2007) Marine Policy. 10.1016/j.marpol.2007.03.001 (in press)

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