Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Geography

Major Professor

Fenda A. Akiwumi, Ph.D

Co-Major Professor

Steven Reader, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Amy Stuart, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maya Trotz, Ph.D.

Keywords

isk attenuation, risk amplification, fish advisories, recreational fishermen, information equity

Abstract

Over one million acres of land and water in Florida has been classified as impaired by mercury. Approximately 80% of national fish advisories are issued due to mercury contamination. There have been a number of consumption advisories in the Tampa Bay Region for locally eaten fish such as largemouth bass ( Micropterus salmoides), bowfin (Amia calva), and alligator gar (Lepisosteus osseus). The main purpose of this study was to determine if there is adequate dissemination of mercury related risk information by government agencies to recreational and subsistence fishermen in the Tampa Bay Region. This research revealed that government agencies utilized simplified models when addressing mercury consumption risks in Tampa Bay. Most of the popular fishing sites and public parks in the Tampa Bay Region have no advisory signs warning fishers of possible mercury contamination in fish. The majority of survey respondents (88.4%) consumed the fish they caught. There was statistically significant evidence suggesting online sources of public health information influenced viewing of fish advisories. This study determined factors: sex of licensee, above median levels of income and type of license also influenced viewing of fish advisories. Results indicated that women were less likely to view fish advisories than men. In addition, the viewing of fish advisory information by women of reproductive age was not significantly different to all other female age groups. Behavior among participants varied and was dependent on individual perception of mercury risks and nutritional benefits associated with consumption of fish.

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