Nationwide survey launched to test our ‘ocean literacy’ and inform plans for the future. ‘How well do you know Ireland’s seas?

Fair Seas has launched its first Ocean Literacy Survey, to find out how well people in Ireland know the waters around us and how they use them. The coalition of leading environmental non-governmental organisations and networks has launched the ambitious research online and is asking people from all sectors to share their views.

Ocean literacy is the understanding of our individual and collective impact on the ocean and its impact on our lives and wellbeing.

Fair Seas is asking people to complete an online survey, answering questions about the health of Ireland’s marine environment, how they use the seas and what actions they believe the Irish government needs to be taking to manage this environment.

Topics include:

  • How important the ocean is to people
  • Where people’s knowledge about the marine environment comes from
  • If the marine environment has changed over the last decade
  • What activities they’ve done to protect the marine environment
  • The impact their lifestyle has on the marine environment
  • How much time they spend by the sea

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas said, “We’re working with international researcher Dr Emma McKinley on this important project. We want to understand how a wide range of people use, experience and value Ireland’s ocean and marine environment. Our relationship with the ocean is a complex one and there is a growing awareness that understanding this relationship is essential if we’re to successfully protect and restore our seas. Similar surveys have been carried out in Scotland and Wales in recent years. This will provide us with a baseline of ocean literacy in Ireland and will be useful for international comparison as well as informing future campaigns to preserve the valuable resource that is our ocean.”

Dr Emma McKinley, Research Fellow from Cardiff University added, “At its very simplest, ocean literacy is all about people’s relationships with the ocean – it is defined as ‘having an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you, and your influence on the ocean’. Knowing how people feel about, value and perceive the marine environment and how it is managed can help us to make better decisions and improve ocean and coastal management in the future. Surveys are a really valuable way of gathering insight from people from all parts of society. Through this survey, we hope to learn more about how people across Ireland feel about the ocean, coasts and seas around them, what matters to them when it comes to their bit of ocean, and how we might be able to use this information to understand where and what to focus on in the future.”

A short survey carried out by Red C on behalf of Fair Seas in October, 2022 showed 81% of people agreed with more legal protection for our ocean. The government has committed to protecting 30% of Ireland’s seas by 2030. Legislation to provide a statutory basis for the identification, designation, and management of MPAs in Ireland’s maritime area is currently being prepared.

The Ocean Literacy Survey will remain open until the end of the summer; however an overview of initial results will be presented at the Fair Seas World Ocean Day Conference in Cork on Thursday, June 8th.

All information collected through the survey will be held securely and treated in the strictest confidence. It will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and consent can be withdrawn at any time.

To take part visit the following link: and tell us, ‘How well do you know Ireland’s seas?’


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