Increasing Stakeholder Understanding and Collaboration Through Anthropological Research
University of Maryland at College Park
Department of Anthropology
with the support of the
Society for Applied Anthropology
Office of Sustainable Ecosystems and Communities,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
I would like to thank the SfAA/EPA cooperative agreement for giving me the opportunity to undertake this internship which allowed me to continue working with the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program. In particular, I would like to thank Barbara Rose Johnston of the SfAA for her support and patience, and Theresa Trainor of the EPA for her encouragement and good advice. Countless times throughout the course of the internship, Dr. Michael Paolisso, the director of the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program, provided me not only with direction and advisement, but also with an contagiously optimistic outlook. I would not have been able to accomplish all that I did without his continued support, and the support of the other Anthropology of Pfiesteria Project team members. Dr. Paolisso and Heather Schact-Reisinger also deserve credit for "crunching" the project data which I include in this report. Lastly, I would like to thank Betsy Salter, my EPA mentor, and the other environmental professionals and stakeholders who took time out of their busy schedules to provide me and the project with valuable information. Hopefully it will ultimately lead to improved environmental health and community relations on Marylands Eastern Shore.
When fish began dying on Marylands Eastern shore two summers ago, and a little-known microbe named Pfiesteria piscicida was implicated as the cause, diverse communities were forced to both quickly make sense of the situation and deal with its consequences. Chesapeake Bay watermen faced a precipitous drop in seafood sales and charter boat reservations, as well as ill-health effects attributed to the microbe. Area farmers found themselves the target of blame and regulations, as nitrogen, then phosphorus from agricultural runoff became a suspected causal agent of Pfiesteria blooms. For individuals working in environmental professions, Pfiesteria represented a scientific mystery with potentially catastrophic public health, economic and environmental quality ramifications. Under intense political and public pressure to react decisively, environmental professionals found themselves responsible for not only understanding Pfiesteria, but for developing both short and long term policies to effectively counter it.
Due to their media access, organizational affiliations and influential positions, environmental professionals, such as government officials, scientists and activists, played a major role in defining the public image of the Pfiesteria problem. A central component of this image was the wealth of scientific information flooding in from research projects regarding every conceivable aspect of Pfiesteria. This information was ultimately used to justify new agricultural runoff regulations aimed at preventing Pfiesteria outbreaks. Yet environmental professionals quickly learned that not all stakeholder groups saw the Pfiesteria problem similarly, even when confronted with the same scientific information. Farmers in particular questioned everything from the validity of the science, to how the scientific results were interpreted and applied to policy decisions. While many simply equated these criticisms with anti-regulation sentiments, such divergent views served to exacerbate an already adversarial situation, and continues to threaten the implementation and effectiveness of Pfiesteria policy.
A possible solution to this dilemma starts with the recognition that no groups understanding and approach to Pfiesteria was based solely on the available scientific information. Environmental anthropology research suggests that groups draw upon a broad and diverse cultural knowledge to to make sense of complex environmental problems such as Pfiesteria. This cultural knowledge consists of core beliefs about the environment, specific domains of knowledge (including scientific understandings), and overarching personal and cultural values. Knowledge is shared, to varying degrees, within groups, and is incorporated in such a manner to form working "cultural models." These models provide a framework for incorporating and understanding new information, as well as interacting with the external environment.
Why is understanding these cultural models important for effectively dealing with the Pfiesteria issue? Although the most controversial legislative wrangling over Pfiesteria has largely passed, current initiatives must now work with these same adversarial groups to implement pollution prevention and non-point source pollution reduction measures. Past experiences on the Eastern Shore have proven that legislation alone does not ensure acceptance or compliance. Developing and implementing policy can no longer be seen as a simple battle of wills between environmental professionals and farmers. It must be viewed as a productive interaction between groups which have complex, differing, and sometimes equally valid perspectives of the situation. An integral part of this interaction is the ability of environmental professionals to question the assumptions behind their own understandings, and to develop an innovative attitude towards policy which strives to adapt to other groups needs without sacrificing environmental quality goals.
Several years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys Office of Sustainable Ecosystems and Communities (OSEC) recognized the value of such social and cultural information and established a cooperative agreement with the Society for Applied Anthropology. The agreement seeks to provide the EPA and community environmental organizations with access to social science knowledge and expertise by placing social science interns and fellows with these groups as a resource for technical assistance. Interns and fellows receive funding from the Cooperative Agreement to support their work. The following report represents the final product of one of these internships, which I undertook the summer and fall of 1998 with the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program at the University of Maryland at College Park.
THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF PFIESTERIA PROGRAM
As the widespread effects and social implications of Pfiesteria became clear, so did the inadequacies of a purely natural scientific approach to the issue. Pfiesteria was as much of a cultural problem as an ecological one, and was going to require successfully interacting with people to resolve it as much as it would require dealing with microbes. In response, the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program was created during the Fall of 1997 as a research component of the Natural Resource and Cultural Process Track within the Department of Anthropology. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Paolisso and Dr. Erve Chambers, the program has since been working to develop research strategies to effectively address the combined environmental and cultural problems raised by Pfiesteria. In a recent document, the Program listed its research and applied objectives as follows:
During the summer of 1998, a team from the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program conducted research in the Pocomoke River watershed area of Marylands lower Eastern Shore. The site of significant fish-kills and Pfiesteria blooms the previous summer, the Pocomoke arguably became the epicenter of Pfiesteria-related activity in the state. The location of a field office on the lower Eastern Shore provided continuous access to members of all three identified stakeholder groups, namely, farmers, watermen and environmental professionals. Although, many participating environmental professionals were also located outside the area in Annapolis, Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C.. Research methods included participant observation, open-ended interviews and structured interviews. The structured interviews consisted of both free listing and triadic comparison exercises, intended to elicit information on intra- and interstakeholder variation in beliefs about Pfiesteria (Weller and Romney 1988). This data eventually will also serve as a basis for exploring the various cultural models of stakeholder groups.
INTERNSHIP GOALS & OBJECTIVES
As an SfAA/EPA intern, I was responsible for providing technical assistance to the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program. Most assistance was needed in developing and carrying out a research strategy which would effectively focus on the stakeholder cultural models used to understand and react to Pfiesteria and other environmental problems. Working as part of a larger team of experienced researchers, my role consisted primarily of providing input into elements of research design and assisting in research activities as needed. Core responsibilities included helping to identify, contact and recruit members of the environmental professional stakeholder group for participation in the project. Participation, at this stage of the research, entailed completing two structured survey exercises, the details of which will be discussed later. Working with environmental professionals was a logical assignment for me, given that I was simultaneously carrying out another internship at U.S. EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 1998. I was able to perform most of my research activities from the Programs main office in College Park, MD. Over the course of several trips to the Programs field office in Princess Anne, Maryland, I also was able to join colleagues in conducting both open-ended and structured interviews with members of the farmer and watermen stakeholder groups.
Additional research activities included helping to develop open-ended interview questions and attending public meetings and forums related to Pfiesteria. In terms of technical assistance and independent activities which could aid the Program, my last project was to draw upon my experiences with the environmental professional community to identify possible applications for Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program data for current policies and programs related to Pfiesteria, agricultural runoff and watershed protection.
MARYLANDS EASTERN SHORE: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
From its settlement in the 1600s until today, Marylands Eastern Shore has been dominated by agriculture in the rural interior lands and fishing along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay. Although these economies were historically most often separate, (some farmers also fished and vice-versa) relations between the two communities remained generally amicable and both groups presented a united front against changes to their respective lifestyles, most often threatened by politicians from Annapolis, Baltimore or Washington, D.C.. Such conservatism is illustrated by the motto of Somerset County, MD, Semper Eadem, which translates simply as, "Ever the Same." This sentiment is a uniting factor on the Eastern Shore, which Meredith Ramsay states has demonstrated an "unvarying pattern of resistance to change that unfolds over a three-hundred-year period" (Ramsay 1996: 6).
Yet, the construction of the Bay Bridge during the 1950s assured residents of the Eastern shore that their lives would never be the same. Across the bridge came an influx of people, ideas, influence and change which made many Eastern Shore residents resentful of their neighbors on the western side of the Chesapeake. Soon, environmentally-minded individuals from urban areas, who utilized the Shore for recreation purposes, began vocally to express concern over the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Farmers felt attacked from all sides, as corresponding to these changes was the threat of a slow decline in the profitability of both agriculture and fishing as a means of making a living. But while many watermen (as Eastern Shore fisherman are called) are still struggling to survive upon unreliable fish and oyster stocks, local farmers, on the other hand received some welcome assistance from an unlikely character, the poultry industry.
Today, many Eastern Shore farmers are dependent upon income from contractual agreements to raise chickens for large corporations such a Tyson and Perdue. This additional income is viewed as a vital supplement by many who see it as the only way in which their families can continue farming. An estimated 650 million chickens are raised on the Delmarva Peninsula annually, making it one of the largest poultry producing areas in the nation (University of MD, Dept. of Agriculture and Natural Resources 1997: 7). Yet, none of these birds are ever owned by the farmers. In a common contract between a farmer and a poultry company, the company supplies the birds, their feed and a loan with which to build chicken sheds to house the birds. The only residuals that farmers are left with, besides a small profit, are any birds which died prematurely. . .and several million tons of manure. Although many farmers greatly benefit from this manure by applying it as an inexpensive fertilizer for other crops, they cannot apply all of it. That which is applied often oversaturates the soil with phosphorus, creating nutrient-rich runoff which drains into Chesapeake Bay tributaries, and eventually into the Bay itself.
PFIESTERIA, CONFLICT AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNITY
Starting in late 1996, a series of events began to occur in Chesapeake Bay tributaries on Marylands Eastern Shore that would further change the lives of area residents for the foreseeable future. The first indicators of the impending Pfiesteria outbreak occurred as far back as October of 1996, when watermen on the Pocomoke River began noticing high percentages of fish with lesions. When river water was subsequently sampled between April and May of 1997, tests confirmed the presence of the microbe Pfiesteria piscicida, the same microbe suspected of causing extensive fish-kills in North Carolina just a few years prior.
Between August 6th and August 10th of 1997, peoples worst fears were confirmed as 10,000 to 15,000 fish, mostly Menhaden, were found dead or dying on the lower Pocomoke River. The river was promptly closed to all human activity.
As media coverage of events on the Eastern Shore began to grow, a public reaction that came to be termed "Pfiesteria Hysteria" became more widespread. Reports soon began to surface that local seafood companies and other water-related industries had lost 40-50% in sales due to fear of the possible affects of Pfiesteria. This occurred even though the vast majority of fish affected in the incidents were Menhaden, primarily used for bait and rarely consumed by humans.
At the time of the initial outbreaks, very little was known about the microbe Pfiesteria piscicida, in regards to what caused it to bloom toxic, and how it could possibly be prevented. Pfiesteria was known to be a dinoflagellate, a microscopic, free-floating, single-celled organism. It could exist in over 24 life stages and, when first discovered, represented an entirely new family, genus and species. Much of Pfiesterias life is spent in shallow estuaries, either as a dormant organism or a non-toxic predator feeding on algae. However, under certain unknown circumstances, Pfiesteria could release a number of toxins causing damage to both a fishs skin and neurological system, and in high concentrations could kill them. Exposure to Pfiesteria toxins was also suspected to have wide-ranging and serious health effects on humans. Frustratingly, the exact cause of Pfiesteria blooms was not known, except that they tended to occur during the hottest part of the year and precede low dissolved oxygen levels in estuaries. From the beginning, there was a firmly held suspicion shared by environmental groups, as well as by some scientists and government officials, that Pfiesteria blooms were indirectly linked to heightened nitrogen and phosphorus levels from local farm runoff, as these nutrients feed algae upon which Pfiesteria preys.
When it became clear that the Pfiesteria issue would not simply dissipate, the Maryland State government began taking actions that would affect all parties concerned. Besides closing any rivers which showed symptoms of the presence of Pfiesteria and launching a massive media campaign to ensure the public that Maryland seafood was indeed safe to eat, a nine-member blue-ribbon commission, headed by former governor Howard Hughes, was instated to review the massive amount of research spurred by Pfiesteria and make recommendations for government action.
The Commission worked from September 9, 1997 to roughly October 14, 1997, during which time Pfiesteria outbreaks were spreading to other Chesapeake Bay tributaries and pressure to act decisively was rising. And while discussion among Commission members ranged from ways to dispose of poultry waste and who should be financially responsible for that disposal, to the relative roles of nitrogen and phosphorus in contributing to Pfiesteria outbreaks, to technological ways to limit phosphorus in chicken manure, Marylands governor had already suggested that in all likelihood the State would for the first time impose mandatory run-off restrictions on farms. This idea was lauded by most scientists and environmental groups, who saw regulations as a long overdue and necessary step for protecting the Chesapeake Bay, with or without the presence of Pfiesteria. But for area farmers and members of the poultry industry, regulation represented a threat to the economic viability of their operations. The fact that the scientific links between Pfiesteria and agricultural runoff were not proven, and that farmers had long been voluntarily implementing nutrient management plans to limit nitrogen runoff, only served to escalate the contentiousness and acrimony of the situation.
The release of the Hughes Commission report and the Governors Pfiesteria-fighting plan set off a rancorous and partisan legislative debate that lasted for several months. Flashpoints in the debate included the proximity of the proposed deadlines for compliance, the extra costs of nutrient management plans which would not be covered by government assistance, and the existence and/or amount of proposed penalties on farmers for not complying with new regulations. As it became clear that the bill supported by the Governor and environmental groups would pass by a wide margin, frustration on the part of farmers and their supporters became abundantly clear . As a gesture of protest for what many saw as an inevitable defeat, two sympathetic State senators introduced a piece of legislation intended to let Eastern Shore residents vote for the secession of their counties from the State of Maryland. This legislation reportedly appears every several years on the Eastern Shore, and is resurrected as a continuing statement of disapproval regarding the regions proposed unjust treatment by the rest of the State across the Chesapeake Bay.
The contentious legislative wrangling over Pfiesteria ended with more of a fizzle than a bang. In a special legislative committee, both sides made concessions, but the Governors bill emerged with few substantial changes. Central to the bill were mandatory limits of both phosphorus and nitrogen farm runoff, and requirements for chicken feed mills to modify their equipment to introduce Phytase, an enzyme that absorbs undigested phosphorus in chickens. On the incentive side of the bill were the development of a pilot program to ship manure out of the State, technical assistance to assist farmers in developing nutrient run off plans, and more funding for Pfiesteria research. Practically no new regulations were placed on the large poultry producers, who many farmers and environmental professionals alike felt should be held primarily responsible for disposing of poultry waste.
THE PRESENT SITUATION
Toxic Pfiesteria blooms have not been reported in Maryland since September of 1997. But the passing of a "hysteria over Pfiesteria" has not diminished scientific research and concern about the microbe, or efforts to safeguard the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay and its watersheds. Through this research, we now have an improved understanding of the biology and toxicology of Pfiesteria and related dinoflagellates in the Bay; (Terlizzi 1998); the levels and cycling of phosphorous through Bay area soils and water (Coale 1998); the multiple human health problems, including temporary memory loss, long suspected as effects of exposure to Pfiesteria toxins (Grattan et al. 1998); and the devastating toll of Pfiesteria on Marylands seafood industry (Seiling and Lipton 1998). Yet key unanswered questions and issues remain regarding both the scientific nature of Pfiesteria, as well as the most effective course for implementing policy to address it.
What frames the Pfiesteria issue today are the following:
RESEARCH METHOD AND STRATEGY
During the summer of 1998, the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program undertook exploratory work developing a hopefully replicable research strategy centered around stakeholder beliefs about Pfiesteria (For a brief overview of the strategy, see Appendix 1). First, the strategy sought to understand patterns of agreement or disagreement within and between stakeholder groups regarding Pfiesteria. Studies of inter- and intracultural variation of knowledge provides insights into both how individuals learn and transmit environmental information, as well as if and how different particular understandings correspond to different stakeholder groups (cf. Boster 1987; Garro 1988; Johnson and Griffith 1996; Kempton et al. 1995). Second, information gathered about inter- and intracultural variation serves as a basis for determining stakeholder group cultural models, as mentioned previously. An important aspect of these cultural models is that they frame experience, supply interpretations and inferences of that experience, and provide goals for action for each of the stakeholder groups (Quinn and Holland 1987: 6).
It is important to note here that the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Programs research plan was considered exploratory for a number of reasons. During the allotted time frame, researchers had to first build a rapport with stakeholder groups already wary of outside interference, and then test the acceptability of structured data gathering techniques for those groups. Given the scope of these tasks, researchers proposed that only preliminary and baseline data would be gathered during this phase of the project.
The first step in getting the Pfiesteria research project underway was identifying the key stakeholder groups and recruiting their members for participation. At the outset, the existence of three generalized groups involved in the Pfiesteria issue was clear, those were farmers, watermen and environmental professionals. As the project progressed, it also became clear that many subdivisions existed within these groups, especially within the admittedly broad category of environmental professionals. But due to funding and staff limitations, expanding the projects focus to consider these groups separately was not feasible. Participants for all stakeholder groups were identified through snowball sampling techniques, with one individual suggesting several others who might be interested in the project. For environmental professionals, who included policy makers, scientists, activists and government employees, the at local, state and national levels, identifying group members was made easier by the public exposure that the group enjoyed. Researchers were able to pinpoint several key individuals simply by attending public forums and reviewing newspaper articles.
Recruiting environmental professionals proved to be more complex. While farmers and watermen were recruited through the rapport-building process with researchers situated on the Eastern Shore, the varying locations and more formal work environments of environmental professionals did not allow for similar types of interactions. But environmental professionals work situations did provide a unique and efficient opportunity for collecting structured data, as most members of this stakeholder group had access to electronic mail. Once an environmental professional stakeholder list was compiled and initial contacts made, the research team solicited participation for both of the structured data collection exercises mostly via email. In total, 30 environmental professionals completed exercises, compared to farmers (n=35) and watermen (n=35), who completed the exercises in person (Appendix 2). Since involvement was not confirmed prior to the solicitations, response rates to the two exercises varied.
From the Programs methodological experiences with the environmental professional stakeholder group, we can conclude that using electronic media to collect structured free list and triadic comparison data, when possible, can be both a practical and efficient approach. Sending exercises in email form allowed researchers to seek information from a large number of individuals in scattered locations in a rapid manner. Further, the data was collected without the great degree of time and logistical planning required for in-person interviews.
There were also drawbacks associated with the approach. Given the relatively impersonal nature and lack of immediacy associated with mass emails, few of the individuals contacted replied promptly. In fact, to boost response rates for the triadic comparison exercise, it was necessary to resend the exercise to the original recipients individually, along with a personal message stressing the urgency for them to reply. Researchers working with farmers and watermen did not seem to have this problem, presumably because of the more personal relationship between them and the participants. To our advantage though, the sheer number of environmental professionals compared to farmers and watermen allowed us to accept a low response rate while still obtaining comparable numbers of participants between groups. Lastly, another disadvantage of collecting structured data via email is the preclusion of opportunities for simultaneously collecting non-structured ethnographic data. Much of this information was obtained though the process of building rapport with the farmers and watermen, and will have to be collected later for the environmental professionals.
FREE LIST EXERCISE
Free list exercises elicit the variety of terms and concepts related to a particular issue, as understood by a particular group. From the resulting lists, researchers further seek to determine those terms and concepts which are most strongly related, forming a groups core understanding for a particular issue. The free listing exercise for this project asked individuals to respond to statements such as, "List all of the words that come to mind when you hear the word or think of Pfiesteria."
The request was repeated for the words, "Lower Eastern Shore," "environment," and "manure."
Approximately 15 individuals responded from each of the stakeholder groups and provided more than 100 distinct words, terms and phrases. Individuals listed an average of 10 words each. The top ten terms for each stakeholder group were determined according to their "saliency," which represents a combination of the frequency in which the terms were mentioned and their rank in the lists provided by each individual. The results for the key word "Pfiesteria" are presented in Appendix 3. Shown are the ranked list of terms, the frequency which the terms were mentioned, the percentage of respondents who mentioned the terms, and the average ranking of the terms. The "Smiths S" score factors in the effect of varying list lengths on the rankings.
As of this time, the free list data has not undergone extensive analysis. But a preliminary review reveals a number of interesting results, especially for the environmental professional stakeholder group. In total, environmental professionals listed more terms related to Pfiesteria (243) than the farmer and watermen stakeholder groups combined (216). Individual lists, on average, were also almost twice as long. This may simply be a result of environmental professionals completing the exercise over the email, without the time constraint of having a researcher administering the exercise. In contrast, most farmers and watermen completed the exercise during arranged appointments with members of the research team. Also of note, more environmental professionals completed the exercise than members of other groups, which may also help account for the larger number of terms.
Beyond those points, other factors might also explain why environmental professionals provided such extensive lists. Many of the individuals who participated in the project worked and wrote extensively on Pfiesteria as part of their jobs. They also came from a wide variety of backgrounds and were quite diverse in their areas of expertise. These may have resulted in environmental professionals translating their thoughts on Pfiesteria into a technical vocabulary which could be verbalized more readily than those of other groups.
Possibly more important than the number of terms listed by environmental professionals was the high frequency with which certain terms were mentioned. At least 50% of environmental professionals listed the same four words: nutrients, lesions, fish and Pocomoke, in response to the word "Pfiesteria." The high frequency suggests that environmental professionals generally agree that these terms represent key aspects of the Pfiesteria issue. In stark contrast, no other stakeholder group had more than 29% of its members list one particular term. This does not mean that farmers and watermen lack a coherent understanding of the Pfiesteria, but that a much wider variety exists as to the elements of importance and concern which make up that understanding.
TRIADIC COMPARISON EXERCISE
Given the somewhat limited nature of their explanatory power, free list exercises are often used to supply information for other data gathering techniques. Upon preliminary analysis of the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Programs free list terms, researchers identified a total of nineteen terms of high salience, which also had cross-stakeholder relevance and importance to Pfiesteria policy and programs (See Appendix 4). Using a lambda 2 incomplete balance block design (Borgatti 1992; Burton and Nerlove 1976), the 19 terms were used to develop a 114 question triadic comparison exercise. To prevent test design biases, individual questions were randomized, creating five different versions of the exercise. One version of the exercise was randomly selected for each stakeholder group participant. Environmental professionals received the exercise in email form with both a project description and an informed consent form required by the University of Maryland (See Appendix 5).
The purpose of the triadic comparison exercise was to assist in studying patterns of agreement and disagreement, both within and between stakeholder groups, regarding issues surrounding Pfiesteria. Identifying patterns of agreement is important to understanding the cultural models held by a particular group. To expand on this concept, Quinn and Holland (1987:4) define cultural models in the following manner. " [C]ultural models are presupposed, taken-for-granted models of the world that are widely shared by members of a society and that play an enormous role in their understanding of that world and their behavior in it." The term "world," as used here, does not necessarily refer to the entire Earth per se, but moreso the perceptual and experiential world of member of a group, in both micro and macro terms.
To assess patterns of agreement, researchers at the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program opted to use an analytical approach for the triadic comparison data called the "consensus model," developed by A. Kimball Romney, William Batchelder and Susan Weller (Romney et al. 1986, 1987; Weller 1987). The model assumes that agreement among respondents corresponds to the extent which each individual knows a culturally defined "truth," which is broadly shared by their respective cultural group. Whether or not such agreement exists can be determined through criteria produced by factor analysis. The consensus model also provides information regarding the extent to which each respondents answers fit the overall consensus of the larger stakeholder group, demonstrating that individuals cultural "competence."
In total, 24 farmers, 21 watermen and 25 environmental professionals completed the triadic comparison questionnaire. Tests for the degree of agreement within the three stakeholder groups suggested that one underlying cultural system was indeed shared within the groups. Further, data tentatively suggested that some agreement might also exist between the stakeholder groups. Additional analysis would be required to verify and substantiate this conclusion.
Two subsequent analysis techniques, multidimensional scaling (MDS) and hierarchical cluster analysis provided another perspective of the triadic comparison data. MDS/cluster analysis plots were completed for each of the stakeholder groups, displaying visually the degree to which a group agreed on the relationships among key terms. The plots displayed the terms along two axes, illustrating the areas of consensus among, and to some extent between, stakeholder groups. For the environmental professionals responses to the term "Pfiesteria" (See Appendix 6), two clusters of words, one relating to agriculture and one relating to water quality, were very close in proximity. Some suggest that the variety of water quality terms represents an ecological approach to water quality problems, with many factors contributing to the issue of Pfiesteria (Paolisso et al. 1998). Clearly differentiating the environmental professionals from other stakeholder groups, "manure" was placed very close to "fish kills," demonstrating a consistent and strong connection between the terms as related to Pfiesteria. Also unique to environmental professionals, the term "environmentalists" was not included in the cluster related to politics, regulations and economic impact, as it was for the farmer and watermen stakeholder groups. Lastly, it is interesting to note that for environmental professionals, the phrase "human health" was not strongly linked to any cluster, nor was the term media, the latter of which was consistent with other stakeholder groups.
The lack of qualitative interview data for the environmental professional stakeholder group prevents more extensive interpretation of these results. These interviews are planned as part of a future stage of the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Programs research, as are focus groups in which representatives from each stakeholder group will be presented the MDS plots and invited to interpret the data themselves. At the time of this report, triadic comparison results for the environmental professional stakeholder group were also being re-plotted according to other criteria. Those results were unavailable for analysis.
POLICY AND PROGRAM RELEVANCE
Application, along with understanding, has always been a primary goal of the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program and of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland in which it resides. Towards this goal, the Program envisioned both the data resulting from research, as well as a possibly replicable research strategy, as contributing to at least an improved dialogue between stakeholder groups, and hopefully the development or implementation of Pfiesteria programs and policies. Since an integral part of making the Programs data useful was identifying and understanding existing policy initiatives, this became the last task of my internship.
The Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program now stands at a crucial stage in its existence. With the exploratory research concluded and baseline data gathered, many individuals in the policy arena have inquired how, practically, our work might be useful to specific programs. Two of these inquiries are of particular importance. First, some policy makers have expressed that simply detailing the views of a community, especially those which appear to be steadfast in opposition to regulation, was of little value. Second, some individuals expressed that after having completed the free list and triadic comparison exercises themselves, these methods might be too "simplistic" to have application to the complex world of environmental policy. The body of this report hopefully illustrates that the methods employed are not simple, and that the phenomenon they explore are equally complex. But it is also important for the Program, and applied anthropology in general, to be assertive in drawing connections between its work and areas of application. In response, what follows is a review of two policy initiatives with multiple programs which have arisen to deal with the Pfiesteria issue. Along with a brief description of the those initiatives are some suggestions of how the type of work undertaken by the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program might provide insight.
POLICIES AND PROGRAMS
Clean Water Action Initiative and Clean Water Action Plan
President Clinton and Vice President Gores Clean Water Action Initiative and the subsequent 1998 Clean Water Action Plan (CWAP) developed jointly by the the U.S. EPA and USDA, are currently setting the course for anti-water pollution strategies nationwide. At the center of the Clean Water Action Plan is a renewed focus on watershed protection and restoration. This focus stresses the importance of collaboration between Federal, tribal, state and local entities to both identify priority watershed issues and to create appropriate and effective watershed protection plans.
The comprehensive nature of a watershed approach necessitates that a broad number of issues be taken into account, some of which directly relate to Pfiesteria. On these issues, collaboration will bring Federal, state and local agencies into direct contact with many of the same groups that have been the research focus of the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program, and many other groups dealing with similar problems across the country. The following are some of Key Actions in the Clean Water Action Plan that might derive insights from the Programs research:
Key Action 51 (p. 46): Through the Pfiesteria Contingency Plan, EPA and NOAA are working to develop a coordinated response system that supports state and local governments both in their reactions to Pfiesteria and other harmful algal blooms, and to the reduction of polluting discharges which might contribute to such events.
Key Action 52 (p. 46): Directs the EPA and NOAA to provide technical and financial assistance to state and local governments to implement nonpoint source pollution programs under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments and state nonpoint source management programs under the Clean Water Act.
Key Action 53 (p. 46): Directs NOAA, DOI, EPA and USDA to coordinate research on harmful algal blooms (ECOHAB), including means to prevent, control or mitigate their impacts.
Key Action 64 (p. 49): Directs the USDA to work with the National Conservation Buffer Team and the National Buffer Council to build partnerships with the private sector, farm and conservation organizations. States, tribes and agencies are further directed to develop a coordinated campaign which encourages private landowners to put buffers on their farms and ranches.
Key Action 67 (p. 52): Directs the USDA to work with agricultural producers to encourage the use of marketing and promotion orders to assist them in meeting their pollution prevention objectives.
Key Action 68 (p. 68): Directs the USDA to work with private insurance companies and foundations to discuss the possibility of an insurance program which helps offset the risks of utilizing new technologies to manage fertilizers and pesticides to prevent pollution. The USDA will also work in developing public-private partnerships that facilitate risk protection policies and programs for producers adopting pollution prevention measures.
Key Actions 96 and 98 (Pp. 78 and 80): Directs states and tribes to work with other agencies, organizations and the public to define watershed protection and restoration priorities and develop Watershed Action Restoration Strategies.
Possible Program Applications:
On a broad level, any strategy that attempts to reduce nonpoint source pollution, through regulation or by any other means, could benefit from a better understanding of the underlying reasons and circumstances which drive individuals polluting behavior. This would allow more effective targeting of both information and technical assistance to these groups, and possibly increase the chance of compliance with new standards and regulations.
The type information produced by the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program could also contribute significantly in the area of partnership building, an increasingly important aspect of nonpoint source pollution control. Building effective partnerships and collaborative efforts requires understanding between groups. Understanding between groups requires successful communication and dialogue. Recently, attempts to begin a dialogue between stakeholders through the National Environmental Dialogue on Pork Production (NEDPP), which shares many similar issues to those surrounding poultry production and Pfiesteria in Maryland, failed because of lack of information and understanding between stakeholder groups (Primack 1998: 9). Shortly into the dialogue, the facilitators realized that that they had not properly identified all of the relevant stakeholders, and had no idea of the scope and complexity of the issues as perceived by those stakeholders. The Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program is undertaking exactly what was missing from the pork dialogue. The data and processes from the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program provide not only an identification of the groups relevant for a partnership-building dialogue, but also provide an in-depth understanding of some of these groups positions, concerns, and a means for beginning a dialogue.
Lastly, information from the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program could help policy makers "fine tune" the development and implementation of programs. For example, CWAP Key Action 68 deals with reducing farmers risks inherent in adopting new pollution prevention technologies through insurance programs and public-private partnerships. Much of the research data collected from the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Programs farmer stakeholder group deals precisely with how farmers view and manage these types of risk. Knowing and utilizing this information for program development could possibly increase the effectiveness of the effort and farmers acceptance of it. Another possible area of application is Key Action 53, which speaks about preventing, controlling and mitigating the impacts of harmful algal blooms. What the term "prevention" entails is rather broad, but conceivably includes aspects of stakeholder collaboration as discussed previously. But more tangible is the concern over the remediation of impacts. Although Pfiesteria and other harmful algal blooms do have effects on a large scale, some of their most severe effects are on a more local stakeholder level. The fact that the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program has been researching how these stakeholder groups view Pfiesteria and its effects, suggests that the Program could contribute substantially to designing mitigation efforts. The obvious advantage of including project information would be to take into account effects which are relevant to stakeholder groups, but not necessarily obvious to policy makers.
State of Maryland Programs to Improve Water Quality
The Governor of Marylands 1998 legislative package included multiple components which focused on improving the States water quality, especially in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Not surprisingly, many of these program components focus specifically on elevated nutrient levels, and the prevention of future outbreaks of Pfiesteria and other toxic microbes. While the plan concedes that all segments of the States population are responsible for nutrient loading, more than half of the programs target members of the farmer stakeholder group, who are currently participating in the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program. Needless to say, all of the programs involve members of the environmental professional stakeholder group in one manner or another. The inclusion of these groups, as well as the program subject matter, make the work and results of the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program highly relevant. Some of the specific programs where anthropological research might provide insights include:
Based on the findings of the Hughes Commission, all farmers must be enrolled in phosphorus-based nutrient management plans by 2000 and that these plans be fully and demonstratably implemented, subject to penalties, by 2002.
Assistance to Farmers
An additional $2.8 million and 20 positions are to provide education and technical assistance to farmers through the Department of Agricultures local Soil Conservation Districts and the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service. The budget also includes cover crop assistance to the Eastern Shore, and contributions to a cost-share fund for farmers to construct manure sheds and dead bird composters.
Manure Disposal Assistance
Assistance to help farmers remove excess and unwanted manure from their land will come in the form of an Animal Waste Technology Fund, which will help the private sector develop and market technologies for alternative uses of animal manure.
Funded research projects, totaling $800,000 for 3 years, will focus on reducing nutrient loading in the Bay and its tributaries. Issues of immediate concern include alternative uses of manure, animal nutrition and agronomic practices.
Possible Program Applications:
Many of the applications for the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Programs work at the State level mirror those at the Federal level. The most significant difference lies in the importance of specific stakeholder group information gathered by the research team. As mentioned previously, the State of Maryland is implementing initiatives with the same stakeholder groups from which the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program has been collecting information. In many cases, the information collected relates directly to how groups, in particular farmers, might react to State initiatives and how they view such initiatives. Increasing collaboration between State agencies and the Anthropology of Pfiesteria Program could ensure that topics of particular interest to the State are identified and included within the broader research of the Program. Examples of possible topics include:
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1998 "Some walk, some talk: But Pork Dialogue had good outcome, convenor says." Consensus, July 1998, No. 23.
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Exploratory Research Strategy
I. Stakeholder Identification
-Review Media Articles, Attend Public Meetings, Contact Individuals (Individual interviews to supplement structured data collection methods may take place at any time during the research)
II. Participant Recruiting
III. Free List Exercise
- Can conduct in-person or via electronic media
- Can analyze results independently and/or use to develop Triadic Comparisons
IV. Triadic Comparison Exercise
- Can conduct in-person or via electronic media
V. Consensus Analysis, Cluster Analysis,
Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS)
- Reveals patterns of agreement regarding certain areas or domains, which helps ascertain inter- and intrastakeholder variation in knowledge.
- This data is key to understanding whether significant variations in environmental knowledge is idiosyncratic, or the result of socio-demographic, economic or political factors that affect information flow, individual learning processes and-or discourse on environmental issues.
Proposed Future Steps
VI. Stakeholder Group Meetings
- Present MDS plots to stakeholder groups to elicit their interpretations of the data
- Initiate dialogue between different stakeholder groups
VII. Determination of Stakeholder Group Cultural Models
- Reveals how stakeholder groups incorporate new environmental information with existing cultural beliefs and values to form an understanding of environmental issues which provides the basis for action.
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