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Welsh coast (Flickr)

UK - Ground-breaking survey highlights importance of sea and coast to people in Wales

People in Wales believe that visits to the sea and coast support their mental and physical well-being, according to the findings of a survey focussed on people’s relationship and understanding of our oceans.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has worked alongside Defra, the Scottish Government and the Ocean Conservation Trust to develop and distribute the Ocean Literacy survey, focussed on measuring the public’s awareness, attitude, knowledge and behaviour of the Welsh marine environment and the pressures it faces.

Ocean literacy can be described as the understanding of our individual and collective impact on the ocean and its impact on our lives and well-being.

The findings of the second round of the survey are published as part of a 10-year initiative to reconnect people with their marine and coastal environments.

The latest survey results have shown that:

  • Around 80% of people in Wales believe visits to the marine environment are good for their mental and physical health (84% and 78% respectively).
  • Almost half of the people surveyed believed their lifestyle had no impact on the marine environment
  • Over 80% of respondents said that protecting the marine environment is very important or important to them personally (83%)

The aim is to undertake the survey regularly so that a picture can be built of how ocean literacy is changing over time.

Rhian Jardine, Head of Marine Services for NRW, said:

“Although much of the sea is out of sight, it actually has a wide-ranging impact on our lives. It provides us with renewable energy, recreation and leisure opportunities, it stores carbon and provides food as well as supporting a wide array of biodiversity. But it also faces some really difficult challenges such as pollution and rising sea levels exacerbated by climate change.”

“The results of this survey demonstrate that people value the benefits we get from the marine environment and believe its protection is important. Yet at the same time, many people feel that the way they live their lives doesn’t have an impact on our waters.”

“Understanding how people perceive and value the seas, around Wales is critical to enabling us to improve their management, from protecting and restoring important biodiversity to maximising the wider benefits of resilient coasts and seas to our health and well-being.”

NRW is working collaboratively as part of the Wales Coasts and Seas Partnership to develop ocean literacy in Wales.

The information from these initial surveys will be critical to informing the development of a Welsh vision and strategy for Ocean Literacy and is part of a wider programme of work to deliver resilient marine and coastal ecosystems that deliver benefits to people now and in the future.

Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, Welsh Government said:

“In Wales, we have a beautiful and diverse coastline, with 60% of the Welsh population living at or near the coast.”

“Building ocean literacy is key to supporting a vibrant connection between people and the sea. This survey provides baseline data which can inform action to strengthen the health and well-being benefits we get from the marine and coastal environments in Wales.”

“These results will feed directly into the work of the Wales Coasts and Seas Partnership which highlights ocean literacy as a priority to improve how we manage and use our coasts and seas in Wales.”

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