Public perceptions of marine threats and protection from around the world

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 7:29pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2018
Date published: 02/2018
Authors: Heike Lotze, Haley Guest, Jennifer O'Leary, Arthur Tuda, Douglas Wallace
Journal title: Ocean & Coastal Management
Volume: 152
Pages: 14 - 22
ISSN: 09645691

The ocean is increasingly facing direct and indirect threats from multiple human activities that alter marine ecosystems worldwide. Mitigating these threats requires a global shift in the way people perceive and interact with the marine environment. Marine public perceptions research has emerged as a useful tool to understand public awareness and attitudes towards the sea. This study compares available surveys of public perceptions of marine threats and protection involving >32,000 respondents across 21 countries. Results indicate that 70% of respondents believe the marine environment is under threat from human activities, and 45% believe the threat is high or very high. Yet when asked about the ocean's health, only 15% thought it was poor or threatened. Respondents consistently ranked pollution issues as the highest threat, followed by fishing, habitat alteration and climate change. With respect to ocean protection, 73% of respondents support marine protected areas in their region. Most respondents overestimated the area of ocean currently protected, and would like to see much larger areas protected in the future. Overall, a clear picture emerged of the perceived threats and support for protection which can inform marine managers, policy makers, conservation practitioners and educators to improve marine management and conservation programs.

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