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Monday, January 25 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Aquatic-Based Recreation Users In Michigan: Risk Perceptions of VHS and Trust In Agency Management

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AUTHORS: Erin L. Jarvie*, Michigan State University; Heather A. Triezenberg, Michigan State University

ABSTRACT: Aquatic based zoonotic diseases (e.g., fish diseases) pose a threat to fish populations and the livelihoods of people that depend on those fish populations. Although in general they do not pose a great risk to humans, fish diseases pose a risk to the environment; recreational, commercial, charter, and tribal fishing; and the culture of fishing. Besides the natural movement of fish pathogens, humans play a role in the transmission of fish pathogens between bodies of water. Michigan’s large commercial and recreational fishing industry contributes billions of dollars to Michigan’s economy each year through expenditures and sales of fish products. Fish diseases have the potential to greatly impact Great Lakes ecosystem health, as well as the industry and people that depends upon it. This research investigated stakeholder perceptions of fish diseases and trust in fish disease management by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division through interviews (n=80) with aquatic-based recreation users in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, using viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) as a case study. Despite VHS virus persisting in Michigan and Great Lakes waters for over a decade, 57.5% of study participants had never heard of the fish disease called viral hemorrhagic septicemia or VHS, and another 27.5% of participants had heard of it but didn’t know much about the disease. Overall, participants cited the natural environment as their top concern about risks from VHS as well as risks from VHS management, with 40% and 30% of participants, respectively. Insights from this study may inform future outreach and communication efforts to help stakeholders understand risks of fish diseases in the Great Lakes, and what steps they can take to reduce the risks of new aquatic diseases entering the Great Lakes.

Monday January 25, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST
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