In my last post I mentioned that I was deeply entrenched in data analysis. I am now happy to report, that I made it through the trenches! What a great feeling it is to have taken pages and pages of transcribed words, to work with it and mold it like play dough until I come to some understanding of what all those interviews were telling me. That being said, I have found that qualitative data analysis is an iterative process, and as I begin the write-up for this project some elements are still evolving.
While I don’t want to get too deep into detail, interviewees reported fascinating preferences regarding important ecosystem services and scientific data needs that I would be remiss not to at least touch on here. Overall interviewees reported 20 ecosystem services as being important benefits provided to the community and state through ocean resources, four of which rose above the rest as they were expressed by 50% or more of participants. These services included a broad concept of recreational opportunities, broad level economic prospects, commercial fishing, and tourism. A telling pattern emerged from these important ecosystem services when they were analyzed by exploring interviewee proximity to the resources. This pattern portrays a relationship between place based ways of knowing ocean resources and perceptions on importance of services.
A similar pattern can be seen in the stated scientific data needs of policy and management decision makers interviewed. Overall, interviewees stated that current scientific data needs related to:
• Ecosystem services analysis
• Updated information for estuarine ecosystems in the state
• Local baseline habitat information
• Spatial mapping studies
• Stock and fisheries data
• Effects of renewable energy on ocean resources
However, a closer look at proximity to ocean resources revealed further emphasis on certain data needs for coastal decision makers, and certain needs for decision makers located geographically inland. Analysis of other interview descriptors revealed some interesting, though less widely prominent, patterns regarding preferences and correlation to entity affiliation as well as years in the field. I hope this teaser of results as successfully enticed you to read the unabridged results and discussion in the final project report when it is completed this summer.
These results of the interview analysis will be used to feed into a data Synthesis Session to be conducted this coming spring. From the beginning of this project I wanted to work with some tool meant to bring stakeholders together around this issue of effective ocean resource management and policy based on data driven decisions. For this reason, the Information Needs Assessment for Coastal and Marine Management and Policy in the Pacific Northwest project will be conducting a Synthesis Session of the results from interview analysis. This Session will bring together coastal decision makers and policy practitioners with academic scientists from a range of institutions. Various structured and semi-structured interactions will be used to communicate data needs and scientific research interests among parties involved. The Synthesis Session will try to generate the basis for evolving-mutualistic relationships in which policy practitioners and academic scientists work together to define research projects oriented around informing a pressing policy or management decision. Ultimately, some understanding will be garnered from this experience regarding how well relationships may be formed in this setting. With the significant threat to ocean resources, understanding various perspectives and related scientific data needs is crucial is creating more effective policy to protect, enhance, or restore coastal and ocean ecosystems in the state.
Plans are forming now about where (Corvallis), when (May 30th), and how the Synthesis Session will be conducted. Interview results regarding how policy and management decision makers find data transfer most effective are being used to formulate the types of interactions to be had during the Session. I am very much looking forward to seeing what may evolve from the next portion of this project, and will happily report back in posts to come!