The majority of Delaware Bay residents say they care about environmental issues and believe migratory shorebirds are crucial to the environmental quality of the region, according to a survey.
The survey, conducted as part of a social marketing campaign to increase awareness and protection of the red knot and other shorebirds, also found that 57 percent of those surveyed said they felt environmental preservation should be given a priority, even at the risk of economic growth.
The survey is part of a three-year social marketing project designed to emphasize the Delaware Bay’s ecological importance and value, particularly for migratory shorebirds and the horseshoe crabs that many species rely on for food every May. It was administered as part of the campaign supported by Massachusetts-based Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.
Earlier this year, the Delaware Bay Leadership Project, in conjunction with Manomet, received an $82,000 grant through the William Penn Foundation to help pay for the campaign.
The project focuses on the decline of the red knot, which migrates every spring from as far away as the tip of South America to the Arctic, stopping at the Delaware Bay to feed on the billions of eggs laid by horseshoe crabs, which spawn around May’s full moon. The red knot’s population has declined by 80 percent during the past 20 years and conservationists have pinpointed the decline in horseshoe crabs as a major reason.
The survey was the first part of the campaign, and those surveyed were residents who live no more than 15 miles from the bay’s shoreline, either in Delaware or New Jersey.
More than 90 percent of those surveyed say the Delaware Bay is important to the local history, economy and recreation. And 69 percent of residents believe the shorebirds are good for the region, not just for “attracting tourists for seasonal bird watching.”
While 46 percent of residents say they are “not at all knowledgeable” about the red knot migration, 23 percent said they were “not too knowledgeable.”
Fifty-six percent said they knew about horseshoe crabs, and 61 percent said they were willing to buy seafood that had been caught without using the crabs as bait.
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