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Student spotlight: PhD candidate Rachel Kelly talks social licence in the marine realm

Curtis Champion, 05 Mar 2018.

Rachel Kelly is a PhD student in the Centre for Marine Socioecology at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. Her research focuses on the social acceptability of human activities that involve the marine environment. Here she introduces us to the concept of ‘social licence’ and discusses why it’s an important component of how communities interact with the marine realm.

Rachel Kelly (right) engaging with marine users to understand how social licence for marine actives is established and maintained.

Social licence means social acceptability for a particular activity, like fishing or farming or some other (usually business) activity. The importance of social acceptability within the broader community for activities that interact with the marine environment positions all of us as important stakeholders of the ocean. That’s why it’s crucial that we understand how the community (that would be you!) feel about all the different uses of our oceans. Through studying ‘Social licence in the marine realm,’ my research aims to better understand how we can include people and communities in sustainable marine use and management. This work extends across different disciplines (social science, fisheries, socio-ecology, etc.) and will enhance our understanding of marine user groups and increase public engagement in marine sustainability.

I’m interested in investigating community opinions and values for the ocean and its uses, and to do this I’m exploring different methods of public engagement, including citizen science. Redmap is an excellent case-study program because it is active across Australia and its participants include divers, fishers, boaters and beachgoers. I’m especially keen to find out if participants in citizen science are more engaged and interested in sustainability than other marine users, and what other groups think about the contributions of citizen scientists. Through this research I hope to provide a new perspective on links between citizen science, social acceptability of fishing and marine stewardship that can help to guide sustainable interactions between people and the ocean.


View a short and informative video explainer of Rachel's work here!

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