Peer reviewed paper “Piloting a Regional Scale Ocean Literacy Survey in Fife”
Ocean Literacy (OL) encapsulates the journey of improved awareness of marine and coastal issues, to the adoption of clear values and attitudes based on that knowledge, and intentional lifestyle and other personal choices at an individual and societal level. Understanding a community or group’s position in this transition enables institutions, such as universities, charities or civil society organisations, to target their public engagement efforts to make progress toward a healthier marine environment. To gather a baseline of OL in Fife, Scotland, an online survey was launched to residents of the Local Authority Area, between the 8th May and 30th June 2021. Responses indicated widespread uncertainty about solutions to marine and coastal problems, prompting the promotion of a solutions-based focus for public engagement efforts, particularly regarding local issues. While there was common agreement that the government, businesses and citizens could be doing more to advance the health of the marine environment and climate, only 55% of respondents had already made some changes to their lifestyles with the intention to continue at the point of survey. Some barriers evidently remain. Concern for the marine environment, climate and future generations largely govern the desire to alter behaviour to reap the desired benefits which include the enjoyment of nature, cultural heritage and aids to mental health. Taking a “nested approach” to OL surveying (regional surveys within a national framework) is likely to improve response rates and amplify the voices of rural and coastal communities. Furthermore, the OL surveying platform may opportunistically serve as a useful tool for investigating public priorities in the early stages of marine planning and policy development.
Ocean Literacy (OL), or Ocean Citizenship, is the basis of a movement to sway positive, lasting change in communities that will benefit the sea, coast and climate. An ocean literate person is understanding of the ocean’s influence on their own lives, as well as the way that their behaviours influence the ocean and is knowledgeable concerning ocean threats. A degree of informed-ness (or ‘literacy’) is thought to inspire effective communication and allow for impactful decision-making regarding personal lifestyle and behaviours, which are subsequently beneficial to the marine and coastal environment. Not only that, a collective OL mindset may be translated into policy, informing marine spatial planning authorities of people’s expectations regarding their marine and coastal spaces.