Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

David Bidwell

Abstract

Like many other coastal communities, people are attracted to Rhode Island’s waters for the range of recreational activities available among the diverse marine habitats. This large influx of people to coastal areas leads to increased threats to the marine environment. One prominent issue is the presence of debris in the ocean, which is predominantly a result of land-based sources such as runoff or trash left by coastal visitors. Among the debris items in the ocean, plastic is the most persistent due to its chemical composition. For this reason and the difficulty in cleaning up the waste, marine debris is a growing concern with no simple solution. In order to begin reducing the amount of debris entering the marine environment, human behavior must be addressed. The scope of this study is to understand how people participating in coastal recreation in Rhode Island behave towards the environment, with particular attention to behaviors that could reduce the amount of plastic debris entering the environment. This study uses multiple variables such as the New Ecological Paradigm, marine environmental concern, connectedness towards the marine environment, and basic demographic variables as potential indicators of one’s environmentally responsible behavior. This presentation will highlight results from regressions of 186 surveys conducted of recreationalists in coastal Rhode Island during the summer of 2015. By studying behavior towards the environment, areas of future research can be addressed among the people who use Rhode Island’s coasts.

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