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Consumption Advisories and Compliance: The Fishing Public and the Deamplification of Risk

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Managers and regulators have recognized that the fishing public often ignores fish consumption advisories, and the reasons for non-compliance are explored in this paper. Risk assessors acknowledge that there is a social amplification (intensification) of risk where the public perceive a risk as much more severe than do the 'experts' or scientists, and this social amplification is a function of the interaction of hazards with social, psychological and cultural processes. I propose that non-compliance of consumption advisories occurs because of the deamplification of risk in hazards that are familiar and enjoyed, such as fishing and fish consumption. Although the public are generally aware of consumption advisories, they continue to believe the fish are safe to eat, and a high percentage eat the fish they catch. Unlike the amplification of risk, the deamplification of risk from fishing in the face of consumption advisories is partly legitimized by the actions of some governmental agencies, as well as by society at large. It is suggested that a variety of economic benefits and social institutions lead to a discounting of consumption advisories, and the delayed nature of adverse health effects allows for additional disregard. Further, it is suggested that co-management of the risk from contaminated fish would increase public involvement, and therefore compliance.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: July 1, 2000

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