Stakeholder engagement and social acceptance are crucial to the success of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Community outreach is an important tool in stakeholder engagement and can often foster pro-environmental behaviours and attitudes in individuals involved. Conservation efforts on the Isle of Arran have been led by the Community of Arran Seabed Trust (COAST), resulting in the establishment of a No-Take Zone (NTZ), and later a wider MPA, to protect the local marine environment.
A survey of 314 Arran residents and visitors was conducted to investigate the effects of community engagement by COAST. Results were first compared to the recent Marine Scotland survey to determine whether Arran residents had different attitudes to Scottish residents, then to a similar survey from 2011 to investigate changes in awareness and perceptions of the Lamlash Bay NTZ. Finally, awareness and attitudes towards the South Arran MPA were also examined.
The results suggest that Arran residents have different attitudes to certain topics compared to Scottish residents. In particular, Arran residents indicated they had more knowledge of the fish farming sector yet ranked it less economically important than Scottish residents. Awareness of the NTZ was high at 95.2%, an increase of 23.5% from 2011, and support was high at 97%. Awareness and overall support of the MPA was also relatively high at 65.9% and 90.8%, respectively. The results demonstrate that COAST’s conservation efforts have been successful from a social, as well as ecological, standpoint.