Public perceptions of marine threats and protection from around the world
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.