Our charity is excited to share the results of the 2022 Ocean Literacy survey!

Together with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Marine Scotland and Natural Resource Wales, we have published the 2022 Ocean Literacy Survey Results. Building on the findings from last years survey, it sheds light on public awareness, knowledge and attitudes surrounding the marine environment.

Ocean Literacy is an understanding of the Ocean’s influence on a person and their influence on the Ocean.

Over 80% of people across England, Scotland and Wales believe it is crucial to protect our Ocean, which is excellent news to safeguard the future of our Ocean.

The key findings include:

  • Protecting the marine environment was very important or important to 83% of the public, and 84% support the creation of Marine Protected Areas.
  • The public feel that marine litter and plastic pollution (69%) is the greatest threat to the marine environment, followed by chemical pollution (58%) and overfishing (51%).
  • 74% said they have or plan to make lifestyle changes to protect the marine environment. The most common reasons for making these changes were concerns about climate change (69%) and a desire to be greener (68%).
  • The top 3 pro-climate behaviours were recycling (77%), reduced use of single use plastic (69%) and reusing plastic (65%). Simple actions which everyone can do!
  • In the last 12 months, 50% had visited the marine environment, which is a significant increase on the 40% who reported doing so in 2021.
  • The study reveals that people visit the marine environment for a range of activities including walking, taking photos or visiting coastal heritage sites. They do so to feel mental health benefits (78%), physical health benefits (72%) or to spend time with others (59%).

As an Ocean conservation charity, understanding Ocean Literacy levels in the UK is vital to help protect the future of our Ocean. Someone who is Ocean literate is more likely to act in ways that support the health of our Ocean. At the OCT, our goal is to support as many people as possible to connect to the Ocean, becoming ‘Ocean literate’ and thinking about their impact on the Ocean in their daily choices. It is uplifting to see more and more people taking action to increase their positive impact on the Ocean.

Nicola Bridge, Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement

Overall, the survey shows us that the public recognise the importance of the marine environment and the need to protect it. They recognise the positive effects they can have on the Ocean, as well as the physical and mental health benefits that it can give them.

We use the results of the Ocean Literacy Surveys to shape our public engagement and education programmes. Last year we launched our #thinkocean challenge, a movement created to encourage everyone to think about their impact on the Ocean in their daily lives. We know that people want to make lifestyle changes to protect the marine environment. This is exactly what our #thinkocean challenge will help people do as we share pro-Ocean actions with them. If everyone made small changes, then together we would make a big impact to safeguard the future of our Ocean.

Full report

Across England, 7,060 people over the age of 16 participated in the online survey. Fieldwork was conducted between 7 March and 3 April 2022. This survey follows up on the research undertaken in 2021. It was commissioned as part of the project Understanding Ocean Literacy and Ocean Climate-related Behaviour Change in the UK by DEFRA, in collaboration with the Ocean Conservation Trust and Natural Resource Wales.