Social license of marine systems: Improving community knowledge and engagement in local marine industries using citizen science

Project Status: 

Project outline and objectives:

Our oceans are threatened by climate change, over-fishing and a growing list of other impacts.

As a result, there is an urgent need for sustainable ocean management. Whilst marine conservation initiatives have increased over recent years, ocean management is slow to involve communities in its development. We use the term ‘social license to operate’ broadly in the terrestrial literature, but its understanding and use within the marine realm has been limited.

The aim of this project is to understand how social license can bridge communication gaps, and barriers, between the users of the ocean environment. Furthermore, it asks how we can improve our understanding of social license by applying it to the marine sector. In this project we will outline the value of social license. We will also summarise the potential of social license to enable the industry-community cooperation needed to share ocean resources sustainably. Social research case studies (national and international) will enable us to discover community understandings of ocean sustainability and social license of marine systems, including recreational fisheries and marine protected areas. We will also identify how engagement, knowledge and perceptions of marine realm management might be improved.

This research will attempt to link social license theory with citizen science.  It will do this to produce actual practical outcomes that may be applied in sustainable management. The project has considerable potential to produce novel, and influence future, theoretical understandings of social license and citizen science, and their application in the management and development of sustainable ocean use.

University of TasmaniaInstitute of Marine and Antarctic StudiesCSIRO Department of the EnvironmentGEOS
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