In 2021 we surveyed Fife residents to understand their knowledge of and attitudes towards the sea, threats to it and, in turn, the solutions… in other words, their ‘Ocean Literacy’. This baseline of information can be revisited in the future, to track any changes in how Fife communities interact with and perceive the sea and coast. This will enable us to identify what people are passionate about and what issues may require further engagement to support positive change for our marine area and the communities that benefit from it.
We also think this scale of public survey can be used effectively to inform public process and policies for a more democratic approach to determining the future use and management of our seas, for example at the start of a regional marine planning process. Regional surveys taking place over time could then be aggregated for a national picture. With limited time and funding we achieved a decent rate of survey returns of the Fife population per capita, which could readily be improved upon.
This project is part of the University of St Andrews Fife Sustainable Natural and Cultural Coastal Zone project, which piloted a ‘living lab’ interaction between cross-discipline university research and local communities and governance processes.
The project has been funded through the St Andrews Restarting Interdisciplinary Research Fund (SARIRF) from the University of St Andrews.