Fair Seas shares early results and encourages people to take part ahead of deadline

Fair Seas has published the interim results of its first Ocean Literacy Survey which shows that 45% of people are concerned about the health of our marine environment. The study was launched this summer to find out how well people in Ireland know the waters around us and how they use them.

Ocean literacy is the understanding of our individual and collective impact on the ocean and its impact on our lives and wellbeing. Early indications are that Irish people have good knowledge of the challenges facing the global marine environment, are aware of the benefits that society gets from the ocean and understand what Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are and support their creation.

More than 90% of people support the creation of MPAs. MPAs are areas of our seas and coasts, focused on conservation and restoration. These areas are legally protected from activities that damage the habitats, wildlife and natural processes that occur there. Fair Seas is campaigning for strong and ambitious MPA legislation to be implemented as soon as possible. Almost 900 people have taken part in the survey so far which remains open until 31st of August 2023. 

The majority of people surveyed indicated that they feel awe and wonder when they think of the ocean; however, there is also strong concern about the waters around Ireland with 4 in 10 believing the health of the marine environment to be either poor or very poor.

Respondents also shared the reasons why they visit the marine environment with at least 70% of people saying it makes them feel more connected to nature, is good for their spirit or leaves them feeling healthier.

Some of the findings include:

  93% of people support the creation of MPAs in Ireland

  40% of people consider the health of the marine environment around Ireland to be either poor or very poor

  72% of people think their knowledge of the challenges facing the global marine environment is good or very good.

  17% of people believe their lifestyle has no impact on Ireland’s marine environment, 35% believe their lifestyle has a positive impact.

Aoife O’ Mahony, Campaign Manager for Fair Seas said, “This survey will provide Fair Seas with a baseline of ocean literacy in Ireland and will allow us to understand how people use, experience and value our marine environment. This will help us as we push for strong legislation to protect this incredible resource. Stakeholder engagement will be crucial as we implement effective conservation measures in our MPAs in Ireland. This survey will help us to measure how Irish people engage with and interact with the ocean and help us to inform effective stakeholder engagement. It is heartening to see that so many people are aware of and support the creation of MPAs in Ireland, the government needs to act on this mandate from the Irish people. MPA legislation was due before the Dáil in June and we need to see it as a priority when the government returns in September.”   

Dr Emma McKinley, Senior Research Fellow from Cardiff University, who is working with Fair Seas on this research added, “Similar surveys have been carried out across the UK, and we look forward to comparing the Irish experience to their international counterparts once complete. It’s interesting that just 17% of people believe their lifestyle has no impact on Ireland’s marine environment. We’re also seeing a strong connection to health and wellbeing among the reasons why Irish people visit the coast.”

As part of Fair Seas’ campaign for strong and ambitious Marine Protected Area legislation, it wants to see mandatory targets committing to effectively protecting 30% of the seas around Ireland by 2030 with 10% strictly protected. The group is calling for stakeholder engagement at every stage of the MPA designation with clear delivery timeframes as well as a robust management hierarchy which clearly defines the varying degrees of site protection to ensure MPAs deliver for nature.


Fair Seas is an official SDG champion appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan. The role of an SDG Champion is to act as an advocate and promoter of the SDGs and a good practice example of how an organisation can contribute to the SDGs and integrate them into their work and activities.

The Ocean Literacy Survey is now closed. A massive thank you to all 2000 people who took part. Our results will be published really soon.  


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