Survey of CNMI and Guam Residents Explores Attitudes and Beliefs About the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument

Figure 1. Prior to the survey, interviewed residents of CNMI had greater prior knowledge of the Monument than those in Guam.
Figure 1. Prior to the survey, interviewed residents of CNMI had greater prior knowledge of the Monument than those in Guam.
Figure 2. Among respondents who had prior knowledge of the Monument, the level of knowledge was about the same in Guam and CNMI.
Figure 2. Among respondents who had prior knowledge of the Monument, the level of knowledge was about the same in Guam and CNMI.

In early 2012, with support from a professional contractor, the PIFSC's Human Dimensions Research Program (HDRP) surveyed residents of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to elicit residents' views on the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Using a questionnaire developed by the PIFSC researchers, contractor American Directions Group, Inc., conducted telephone interviews with 500 Guam and 500 CNMI residents from January 9 to February 12, 2012. The contractor has provided some preliminary results of the interviews.

In the preliminary results, 5 percent of the Guam sample and 37% of the CNMI sample said they or someone else in their household was a fisherman. In Guam, fishing was reported as a main source of income in 10% of households containing fishermen and as a supplemental source of income in 17% of such households. In the CNMI, fishing was a main source of income in 17%, and a supplemental source of income in 26%, of the households containing fishermen. Fish was described as being a regular source of food in 69% of the Guam fishing households and 81% of the CNMI fishing households.

As would be expected, a higher percentage of CNMI residents said they had heard of the Monument (Figure 1). Of interviewees who said they had heard about the Monument before the survey, residents of CNMI and Guam appeared to have comparable levels of knowledge about it (Figure 2).

If they had heard of the Monument, respondents were asked if they believed there was an adequate attempt to understand and include the views of Guam and CNMI residents regarding the designation when the Monument was created. Thirty-nine percent of the Guam residents and 47% of CNMI residents said yes, while 61% of Guam residents and 53% of CNMI residents said no.

Respondents were asked about their attitude toward the Monument when they first heard about it, and then were asked about their current attitude; patterns of response were similar regardless of place of residence:

Attitudes toward monumentGuam residentsCNMI residents
 Attitude when first heard about it (%)Current attitude (%)Attitude when first heard about it (%)Current attitude (%)
Strongly support19471851
Support 34253120
Neutral 30202419
Oppose 9 312 2
Strongly oppose 2 4 5 6

In assessing the degree to which they anticipated the Monument designation would affect their households, residents of Guam and CNMI gave similar responses. In both Guam and CNMI, the highest proportion of interviewees expecting they would not be affected by the Monument. Among the subsample of respondents who thought their households would be affected in some way by the Monument, in both Guam and CNMI the highest proportion expected the effects to be positive:

Anticipated effectGuam residents (%)CNMI residents (%)
   
Some effect 2126
No effect 5954
Might or might not be affected 1817
   
Effects would be positive 4651
Effects would be negative 9 9
Effects would be mixture of positive and negative3838

A more complete summary of findings will be issued later in the year. Final results of the study will be published as a NOAA Technical Memorandum.