Risk Analysis

Risk‐Based Approaches to Deal with Uncertainty in a Data‐Poor System: Stakeholder Involvement in Hazard Identification for Marine National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries in Victoria, Australia

Journal Article

  • Author(s): Janet M. Carey, Ruth Beilin, Anthony Boxshall, Mark A. Burgman, Louisa Flander
  • Article first published online: 13 Mar 2007
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2006.00875.x
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Management responsibilities for the system of marine national parks and sanctuaries declared in Victoria, Australia in 2002 have created imperatives for robust, scientifically defendable approaches to identifying threats to valued ecological attributes of the parks, setting management priorities, and developing monitoring systems. We are developing a protocol for ecological risk assessment in the parks that has due regard for the perception of risks by individuals, and ensures that stakeholder values are an intrinsic part of decision making. The inclusive and transparent protocol provides an opportunity for stakeholder involvement in the identification of valued attributes, as well as in the assessment of associated risks. Our approach brings together ideas about how science enters the community engagement domain in ways that promote collaboration and transparency in decision making. A series of stakeholder workshops across the state drew on the expertise of agency staff, community groups, fishers, industry representatives, academics, and knowledgeable park neighbors to identify hazards of major concern in the parks. Many hazards involved predictable, tangible threats like pollution and exotic species, but the approach also identified a number of less obvious threats related to governance issues and the knowledge‐base for the parks. Importantly, the workshops with their broad range of stakeholders identified threats not previously considered by the management agency in its internal assessments, and several of these “new” threats are already the subject of action by the agency. The deliberate incorporation of local knowledge and local networks in the risk assessment process also provided opportunities for greater engagement of stakeholders with the management agency.

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