Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Tracey Dalton

Abstract

Domestic aquaculture continues to meet public resistance in the U.S. even though the U.S. imports a growing amount of farmed seafood. This study applies the normative evaluation approach to aquaculture in the South Puget Sound, Washington and uses data from an online survey to evaluate how local residents feel about two different types of shellfish aquaculture methods (rafts; bottom culture) in natural and developed settings. This study also evaluates public perceptions of the social and environmental impacts of shellfish aquaculture and examines how a farmed Atlantic salmon escape in Puget Sound in 2017 affected participant views of aquaculture. Findings revealed that Washington residents are overall accepting of both raft and bottom culture shellfish farms in natural and developed settings but are more supportive overall of bottom culture. Support for aquaculture depends on a moderation of farming intensity, as residents were more accepting of low to medium levels of raft and bottom culture. Respondents also felt that shellfish aquaculture had positive and negative impacts on local communities and the environment. They overwhelmingly agreed that aquaculture is good for the economy and a good nutritional option but had concerns about public access, use conflict, and local environmental disruption. These exploratory results can inform Washington aquaculture managers on how to engage the public with the impacts, risks, and methods of shellfish farms for better industry and community relations as shellfish aquaculture continues to grow in Washington coastal waters.

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