An Alaska-focused study on public understanding and awareness of ocean acidification risk shows that Alaskans are three times more aware of ocean acidification than Americans in general. However, Alaskans have difficulty seeing ocean acidification as an immediate risk, and the direct risks to Alaska’s fisheries are still not well understood. The research, “Gauging perceptions of ocean acidification in Alaska,” can be found in the journal Marine Policy.
Some 2000 Alaskans received a questionnaire in September, 2013. Questionnaires asked about each respondent’s role in the state’s fishing industry as well as their belief in, understanding of, and concern about ocean acidification. The questionnaire’s response rate was 18 percent, which is high for studies of this nature. Results showed limited understanding of how Alaska will be uniquely impacted by ocean acidification. For example, only 28 percent of Alaskans believe that ocean acidification would have a greater impact on Alaska than other states in the United States. Alaskans affiliated with the state’s fishing industry are not significantly more concerned about ocean acidification than those unaffiliated, and only 33 percent believe that ocean acidification will decrease revenue for fisheries. Finally, ocean acidification is perceived as a distant risk.
With a better idea of what Alaskans understand about this issue, the next step is to shape public education in a way that facilitates a long-term discussion of ocean acidification drivers and impacts, as well as mitigation and adaptation strategies.