A fisher group weighing a perceived driver of decline, from 1 to 10.

Stakeholders hold different types of knowledge pertaining to resource decline, formed from different personal experiences and education. Sharing of knowledge between stakeholders is vital to effectively co-manage a resource because it can improve the ability to generate solutions that meet the needs of all stakeholders. Jeremy Horowitz is the lead author of a new paper published in Sustainability, now available online. This paper elicited stakeholder perceptions or mental models about fish decline in the Danajon Bank, Philippines. These mental models depicted stakeholders’ conceptual understandings about fish decline by identifying their perceived main drivers of decline, how these drivers caused decline (e.g., dynamite fishing causes habitat decline, which leads to overall fish decline), and what conservation strategies were in place to mitigate main drivers (Figure 1). Data were also elicited through semi-structured discussions to investigate why perceptions differed and how stakeholders communicated with one another. Results showed differences in perceptions and challenges in the ability for certain stakeholders to share knowledge with others. Therefore, this paper suggests modifications to the area’s governance framework, which determines stakeholder interactions and decision-making power. This will help in improving stakeholder collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and decision-making, and consequently improve ecological and social outcomes.

Figure 1: Mental model depicting perceptions of three local government groups about fish decline in the Danajon Bank. Light blue indicates driver and causal effect nodes perceived by only one group; medium blue indicates perceptions by two groups; dark blue indicates perceptions by all three groups. Dashed lines connecting driver and causal effect nodes indicate perception by only one group; thin, solid lines indicate perceptions of connections by two groups; thick, solid lines indicate perceptions of connections by all three groups. Unidentified nodes are illustrated for comparison with perceptions of fisher and environmental stakeholders.


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