This section details the importance of communicating the value and characteristics of spawning aggregations, and the steps needed to reach specific audiences. It is intended that this section will be useful to those responsible for communication and outreach. The following pages provide examples of successful communication efforts and strategies.
A key strategy for communicating the importance of FSA conservation involves managing people and their relationship with the environment, and trying to increase their understanding of the susceptibility of FSAs.
When outreach and communication are not incorporated into FSA conservation strategies, key resource users are not informed, which can lead to misinformation, anger, dissent, and harmful effects to the resource. It is therefore essential to continually communicate about FSA trends. For example, if there is a notable decline in a local FSA, you as the communicator must provide information on how to respond, ensure continued FSA health, explain why some practices are destructive and need to be stopped, and so on.
Rules of Thumb
With so many facets of management needing to be communicated there are a few ‘rules of thumb’:
Choose Priority Issues: Determine the main issues to be communicated, and address them one at a time. Too many messages at one time can undermine the process and confuse your audience. Priority issues may include: FSA biology, FSA vulnerability, enforcement, and management strategies. There are many messages about these issues that can be conveyed, so clarity is essential.
Choose a Target Audience: It is important to convey key messages so that they resonate with the target audience. For example, if speaking to recreational fisherman, educating them about habitat needs of the fish they take might be more relevant.
Create a Forum: People are often skeptical or afraid of change, so it is necessary to develop an appropriate forum that allows people to share their concerns, and learn more about the issue of concern. This may include public meetings or informational tables, where people can learn about the issue.
Target Behaviors: It is important to identify the behaviors you want your audience to change, or the actions they should take. If you are raising awareness, make sure there are actions associated with the information provided so the audience feels empowered. Include some measure of success in your outreach plan to track progress and effectiveness.
In addition to the above, build on existing communication vehicles, such as fishing cooperative meetings, thus avoiding duplication. Address issues that resonate with the chosen audience and design messages to appeal to their emotions (e.g., family history of fishing, sustainability of fishing industry).