SUMMARY OF THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS BREAKOUT SESSION
Jody Enck and Tommy Brown, Cornell University,
The 12 participants in the Human Dimensions (HD)
breakout session identified initially 25 HD issues pertaining to cormorant
management in the Northeast. We consolidated these 25 issues into 12
distinct categories, which are listed below in priority order. One of
these, lack of a coordinated and effective communications plan about
cormorants, was identified overwhelmingly as the most important human
dimensions issue by participants. Three other issues were identified as
being of second priority; the remainder were low priority issues.
- Agencies in the Northeast need to have effective and cooperative
- Stakeholders are more vocal than governmental agencies.
- Foster communications between diverse management interests in
evolving cormorant management strategies.
- We as agencies have not convinced stakeholders that we care.
- Societal attitudes promote suspicion of agencies.
- Lack of fit between outreach and potential and current scope of
- Education outreach to various publics regarding scope of issues.
- Angling public has strong opinions but inadequate knowledge.
- Stakeholders have unrealistic expectations of agencies. Must define
process of management and policy development to promote better
interactions with stakeholders.
- What recreational and economic impacts, in relation to ecosystem,
health, merit controls? Insufficient human dimensions data to support
potential decisions and directions.
- Keep agency partners working together as a unit. Management agencies
have conflicting missions and philosophies.
- Lack of sensitivity to public demands ("big brother knows best").
- Political will forcing action that may not be supportable or helpful.
- Assisting affected stakeholders increases tolerance and appreciation
- Stakeholders have polarized values. Agencies unsure how to weight
stakeholder interests. Cormorants do have aesthetic value to some but
not to others. Perception that all cormorants cost money.
- Public involvement process hasn't involved all stakeholders.
- Stakeholders have unrealistic expectation of fish and wildlife
- Local interests often one-sided and inconsistent with national
government policies and organizations' sentiments.
- Importance of terrestrial degradation under-recognized by management
ISSUE: AGENCIES IN THE NORTHEAST NEED TO HAVE EFFECTIVE AND
COOPERATIVE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES REGARDING CORMORANTS.
ELEMENTS OF DISCUSSION:
- All agencies need strategies, but some have more pressing needs than
- Quite important immediately, but the kinds of needs and importance
may change as cormorant issues evolve over time.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
- Habitat degradation is occurring.
- The public demands action.
- Effective communication is integral to decision making.
- Individual stakeholders think about cormorant issues from a personal
perspective whereas agencies talk about cormorant issues in general
- Stakeholders tend not to be informed about all information.
- Lack of funds.
- Lack of priority.
- Effective communication plans may not be perceived to solve the
problem; communication not seen as useful action.
- Lack of biological data.
- People are unwilling to change values.
- Lack of coordination of actions among agencies.
- Use cormorant communication strategy to do better job of
communicating about overall agency mission.
- Build upon and enhance existing communication mechanisms.
- Enhance agency credibility.
- Project more proactive agency image.
- Communicating with other public agencies (not necessarily natural
resource agencies) can lead to enhancements in the environment.
- By communicating better, can develop awareness and interest in public
for increasing funding for science.
COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION NEEDS
- Educate stakeholders on management process.
- Develop and communicate clear messages.
- Communicate about the full scope and facets of the issue
- Communicate about products and services already available for
addressing cormorant issues.
- Inter and intra agency orientation and education about policies and
- Clear understanding of the problems from the perspective of
- Determination of implementation and delivery systems.
RESEARCH AND INFORMATION NEEDS
- See some of the communication and education needs above.
- Additional biological information (unspecified) as identified by the
other breakout groups.
- Identify target audience, including elected officials and their
- Public attitudes about cormorant issue (generic public and within
specific stakeholder groups).
1. Northeast Administrators should appoint a team to develop a
2. A strong communication element should be included in any regional
cormorant management plan that is developed.
3. Communication messages should be developed by an interagency team,
including support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Sea Grant.
4. Incorporate important research results into the communication plan.
5. Incorporate what we've learned (positive and negative) from previous
outreach efforts into communication plan.
6. Identify and describe policies and functions of various agencies
7. An interagency team should develop, with various public stakeholder
groups, a set of protocols and information needs before any management
actions are taken.
8. Obtain information about important tradeoffs stakeholder groups are
willing to support or are unwilling to accept.
OTHER ISSUES TO CONSIDER
- Develop guiding principles.
- Consider splitting the issues lumped in the #1 priority issue.
- Economic, recreational, ecosystem and aesthetic concerns.
- Ecosystem integrity.
Misunderstandings, perceived lack of communication, and uncertainty
about how best to communicate what messages and with whom all lead to
frustration by both federal and state/provincial staff involved with
cormorant management. Communication efforts within and among agencies are
needed as much as communication efforts between agencies and various
stakeholder groups. Further, enhanced intra and interagency communication
requires a clear articulation and understanding of terms (e.g., human
dimensions, stakeholder, issue, management). Within the breakout group,
various definitions of these terms were being applied without discussion
of what they really meant. It became obvious that shared understandings
did not exist as the discussion proceeded.
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