Science, policy advocacy, and marine protected areas.
Much has been written in recent years regarding whether and to what extent scientists should engage in the policy process, and the focus has been primarily on the issue of advocacy. Despite extensive theoretical discussions, little has been done to study attitudes toward and consequences of such advocacy in particular cases. We assessed attitudes toward science and policy advocacy in the case of marine protected areas (MPAs) on the basis of a survey of delegates at the First International Marine Protected Areas Congress. Delegates were all members of the international marine conservation community and represented academic, government, and nongovernmental organizations. A majority of respondents believed science is objective but only a minority believed that values can be eliminated from science. Respondents showed only partial support of positivist principles of science. Almost all respondents supported scientists being integrated into MPA policy making, whereas half of the respondents agreed that scientists should actively advocate for particular MPA policies. Scientists with a positivist view of science supported a minimal role for scientists in policy, whereas government staff with positivist beliefs supported an advocacy or decision-making role for scientists. Policy-making processes for MPAs need to account for these divergent attitudes toward science and advocacy if science-driven and participatory approaches are to be reconciled.
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