Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Caroline L. Noblet

Second Committee Member

Keith S. Evans

Third Committee Member

Jonathan Malacarne

Additional Committee Members

Teresa Johnson


Aquaculture has received increased attention globally because as capture fishery production is stagnant, aquaculture remains the fastest growing food production sector (FAO, 2018). Without a change in demand, aquaculture must continue to grow to meet the demand for fish; but where will this growth occur? It is expected that when contemplating a change in an area, residents would decide purely on an evaluation of the costs and benefits of the addition. However, the literature has shown that change does not come as easy for people who prefer the status-quo (Kahneman et al., 1991). With a plethora of benefits, will the addition of an aquaculture site be so contrary to people’s connection to the area, that the change will be met with a Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) reaction? Two things must hold true to observe a real NIMBY reaction and, thus, show a relative preference for aquaculture expansion elsewhere: positive attitudes towards aquaculture and a free rider preference (Wolsink, 2000). Using aquaculture in Maine, we explore whether NIMBY responses are found and what types of people and attitudes are associated with NIMBY. Aquaculture is largely integrated in Maine’s economy contributing an estimated $137.6 million in sales revenue (including multiplier effects), over 1,000 jobs, and 56.1 million in labor income (Cole et al., 2017). Maine has an opportunity to continue to develop aquaculture; however, there are many other uses for Maine’s coastline. Attention to how regional differences in aquaculture perception and acceptance is key to crafting and implementing aquacultural policy that is favored by citizens and the industry across Maine. To do this, we must understand the NIMBY reaction to communicate effectively. To understand regional perceptions of the aquaculture industry, we draw from survey data collected by the University of Maine that has 833 respondents and an adjusted-response rate of 15.6%. This research explores how citizens view policy of expansion and restriction on aquaculture in Maine. We draw from a body of literature in economics to inform our model, utilizing a multinomial logit model to analyze our survey results. We find that despite citizen perceptions being quite diverse, there exists a statistically significant difference in support for expansion depending on where the aquaculture is being expanded in relation to where the respondents live. Furthermore, the differences in citizen attitudes are being explored through reported priorities for the Maine economy, environment, and attitudes towards the aquaculture industry. Interestingly, preliminary results have shown that those who had a NIMBY reaction towards the expansion of aquaculture were found to be different than the rest of the population both in demographics and their preferences towards the aquaculture industry. This study’s results highlight unique insights for policy makers and stakeholders to enhance how information is conveyed to citizens and where efforts to relay information would be best pursued.