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The Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan-A Case Study of Fisherman Stakeholder Involvement in Marine Spatial Planning

Essay by   •  March 19, 2017  •  Case Study  •  1,400 Words (6 Pages)  •  887 Views

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Assignment 2: The Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan-A Case Study of Fisherman Stakeholder Involvement in Marine Spatial Planning

  1. How would you characterize the fisheries stakeholders included in this case study? Who are they and what industries/interests do they represent? What seem to be their issues, concerns, interests and motives with regard to the Ocean SAMP and the proposed wind farm? How do these issues and concerns differ among fisherman?

The State of Rhode Island has a very important fisheries sector. With a multi-million-dollar industry, commercial and recreational fisheries are vital to the economic well-being of Rhode Islanders (Hasbrouck et al., 2011). These stakeholders played an important role in the development of the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP). Fisherman expressed concerns about the state allowing Deepwater Wind being selected as the preferred wind farm developer. The decision was announced by the governor with his establishment of a Rhode Island renewable energy goal. This was the overall trigger for Marine Spatial Planning. This focus on renewable energy resulted in a regulatory plan designed to achieve marine conservation and sustain economic development.

Fisherman also expressed concerns with the potential impacts of wind farms on marine resources which could in turn affect their source of income. They were also concerned with the possibility that the SAMP would add a new layer of regulations to the already heavily regulated industry.

  1. The Ocean SAMP has not had 100% participation and support from all member of Rhode Island’s commercial fishing community. What level of participation and support should SAMP leaders try to attain from this stakeholder group, and what do you think is realistic? What is the benefit of trying to attain increased participation and support of this particular stakeholder group? How do practitioners ensure they are maximizing public participation?

Fisherman were initially engaged in the development on the plan with a participatory mapping exercise, various interviews with the Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Council and the development of SAMP fisheries-related policies and regulations. A Fisherman’s Advisory Board was also established to aid in the implementation of the plan.  As noted in the case study, it was found that most fisherman including members of the advisory board were not actively engaged in the implementation process.

Stakeholder engagement is critical to a successful MSP process. In addition to participating stakeholders need to be empowered to enable their full engagement (Pomeroy, 2008). These stakeholders have a great deal of knowledge of the area with is very valuable to the planning and implementation of the MSP.  One mistake that SAMP leaders made was not giving them all a voice in the process even if they didn’t agree with the principles outlined in the plan. These fishermen are still users of the space regardless of their involvement in the plan. The FAB meeting should have been open to all fisherman to participate as this board was set up to represent this group. Involvement in meetings and such allows those who don’t sit on the board to be a part of the process and have their view heard thus creating more ownership into the process. The board should have also been elected by their own rather than appointed by the CRMC from the inception.  This would allow the stakeholder group to feel more included in the process considering they had a role in selecting whom should represent them on the board.

It’s obviously realistic that not everyone is going to want to participate in a process such as this but as managers it is our role to be inclusive in the process and try to engage as many stakeholders in the best way possible.  Ideally by actively involving more stakeholders in the process earlier on allows planners to help work through issues and achieve goals and objectives in a more streamlined fashion. Fisherman for example want to make sure that they themselves are accurately represented and their opinion is known. That’s why engagement activities such as the participatory mapping exercise was so important to the development of the plan. Each individual was given the opportunity to identify what was important to them. This active engagement gives ownership to the stakeholder thus facilitating a sense of empowerment.

It is the role of MSP practitioners to maximize public participation.  Stakeholders are engaged in a number of different ways including bi-lateral meetings, workshops, and public sessions for example. It is not a simple one size fits all for engagement. Practitioners need to analyze the situation, know their stakeholders and their needs and create an engagement plan to maximize participation into the process. Not only having this open availability for all users to contribute but being able to recognize the needs of each person and allowing them to be a part of the process and feel that they contributing.  

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