Linking people to places: evaluating the methodology of collecting human-use data from conservation and protection officers for coastal marine protected area planning in Nova Scotia
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Nova Scotia’s coastal habitats and marine resources are vital to the province’s economy, identity, and well-being. Increasing human populations and associated pressures, however, are threatening these resources. A key solution to mitigating these pressures is the development of marine protected area (MPA) networks. A major constraint to Canada’s proposed national MPA network is the lack of designated coastal MPAs in Nova Scotia. The inclusion of human-use data is a key component of MPA design, and failure to consider these human dimensions can compromise the success of an MPA. The paucity of human-use data for coastal Nova Scotia was the impetus for a new pilot project undertaken by the Ocean and Coastal Management Division (OCMD) at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Maritimes Region. The objective of the pilot project was to map and document information on the distribution and intensity of fisheries and other coastal activities. This report evaluated the methodology used in the pilot project for collecting human-use information from Conservation and Protection (C&P) officers through semi-structured interviews and participatory mapping exercises. The evaluation considered four elements: performance of the research team, research process, interview questions, and use of C&P officers as a source of human-use information. The evaluation demonstrated that the sampling methodology for collecting human-use data from C&P officers was useful to the process. Minor adjustments to the methodology are suggested and it is recommended that a diversity of informant groups be pursued in future efforts. The OCMD also should consider alternative methodologies of participatory mapping workshops or web-based programs to improve the efficiency of data collection, and mitigate issues of data sensitivity and verification. Continued collection of human-use data in the early phases of coastal MPA planning will contribute to the success of MPA establishment on Nova Scotia’s coast and the proposed national network of MPAs.