University Of Tasmania
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Social licence in the marine realm : improving community knowledge and engagement

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:43 authored by Rachel KellyRachel Kelly
Marine environments are complex and dynamic socioecological systems, where social perceptions of ocean stewardship are diverse, resource use is potentially unsustainable, and conservation efforts generally rely strongly on public support or acceptance. As a result, there is increasing consensus on the need to meaningfully include stakeholders and communities in marine planning and management. However, marine stakeholders and communities have diverse and disparate perceptions and relationships with the ocean, which further complicate the marine socioecological system and attempts to manage our interactions within it. Active and meaningful community engagement is central to fostering informed and socially accepted ocean management; thus, social science approaches are actively being applied and incorporated into marine management and research. Social licence, a concept that reflects community views and expectations on the use and management of natural resources, is one such approach. Although social licence has been broadly applied across the terrestrial literature (e.g. oil and gas, forestry, mining, wind energy), its understanding and application within the marine sector has been limited to date. The overarching aim of this thesis is to improve current understanding of social licence in a marine context, and to identify how social licence can be created and improved for marine activities, industries and sustainable management into the future. Specifically, this thesis seeks to determine whether and how social licence can be used as an engagement tool to garner the community involvement necessary for supporting and advising managers of ocean resources around the world. The research components of this thesis are a first assessment of 'social licence in the marine realm', and conclude that social licence is an emergent concept in the marine sector, and that there may be great value in applying it to the marine context. Further, the research determines that social licence has largely focused on public perceptions of industrial and extractive uses of the marine environment, and identifies potential for exploring the concept in the context of community engagement and marine conservation. Firstly, a need for social licence for marine conservation and for marine conservation science is outlined, calling for scientists to increase their awareness of, and engagement with, social and community needs and interests. Accordingly, new understanding is developed on how social licence might be used as a tool to support marine conservation and management, and to connect marine user groups. Multiple case-study investigations are conducted, primarily using qualitative socioecological approaches, including interviews, questionnaire surveys and Q-methodology, to explore stakeholder perceptions of the ocean and social licence, aiming to contribute to novel and improved understanding of social licence in a marine context. The case-studies capture insights from Australia and Europe, and provide new understanding on social licence, as well as diverse perceptions of the marine environment, that are intended to be of interest to a global audience. This thesis is also the first to link citizen science theory with social licence, and identifies important linkages between social licence and citizen science that can work synergistically to support conservation; including engagement, connecting stakeholders, legitimacy and trust. Building upon these linkages, a framework towards achieving social licence for marine conservation through citizen science is created. Developing upon these insights further, the thesis research determines that marine citizen science can also connect marine user groups (i.e. fishers and divers) and improve their perceptions of one another. Thus, revealing how citizen science can provide opportunity for marine users to display their marine citizenship and improve perceptions of trustworthiness, which can lead to enhanced social licence for user groups. Finally, this new knowledge of social licence is expanded beyond marine citizen science, and community perceptions and views on social licence for marine conservation (i.e. marine protected areas) are explored to create a framework for developing social licence that aims to guide marine managers, decision-makers, and stakeholders dealing with marine conflict and opposition in Australia and elsewhere. Future efforts to achieve ocean sustainability will greatly benefit from incorporating community perceptions and other social dimensions of the ocean. Social licence presents a tool and frame through which to examine and understand these perspectives. The concept of social licence is complex and intangible; this thesis does not attempt to simplify or contain it, rather it provides insight into how social licence might be achieved in practice.


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Copyright 2019 the author Chapter 2 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Kelly, R., Pecl, G. T., Fleming, A., 2017. Social licence in the marine sector: a review of understanding and application, Marine policy, 81, 21-28 Chapter 3 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Kelly, R., Fleming, A., Pecl, G. T., 2018. Social licence for marine conservation science, Frontiers in marine science, 5, 414. Copyright Copyright 2018 Kelly, Fleming and Pecl. The article is open-access, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms Chapter 4 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Kelly, R., Fleming, A., Pecl, G. T., Richter, A., Bonn, A., 2019. Social license through citizen science: a tool for marine conservation. Ecology and society, 21(1), 16. Copyright Copyright 2019 by the author(s). The article is published under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license. Chapter 5 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Kelly, R., Fleming, A., Pecl, G. T., 2019. Citizen science and social licence: improving perceptions and connecting marine user groups, Ocean and coastal management, 178, 104855 Chapter 6 appears to be the equivalent of a pre-print version of an article published as: Kelly, R., Fleming, A., Mackay, M., Garcia, C., Pecl, G. T., 2020. Social licence for marine protected areas, Marine policy, 115, 103782

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