Commonwealth marine reserve networks play a central role in supporting important conservation objectives and also contribute to economic and social values. Efficient design and effective management of reserve networks requires consideration of the costs and benefits of alternatives, and should include measurement of the preferences of the general public who, even if they do not make direct use of the marine estate, may still hold existence values for assets protected by these networks.
An online survey of 1122 residents of the South-east marine region (South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania) was undertaken to identify the public’s knowledge and perceptions of the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network, and to investigate the values that they hold for various features protected by the Network. We also determine the effect of providing information about these key features in different ways on the measured public preferences, and of explicitly explaining the importance of affording protection to a representative range of features through a network of reserves. Respondents were drawn from an online research panel and the survey was conducted in June 2015.