Since 2002 NMEA members have led coordinated efforts at the national level to develop education plans and build awareness about the ocean. The first guide to ocean literacy was published in 2005 and presented that summer at the NMEA annual conference. The guide and a companion website have been part of a continuous effort over the past 10 years to promote the definition, principles, and concepts of ocean literacy across the country, and increasingly, around the world.
This ocean literacy work has been used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in educational programs and by the National Science Foundation as a requirement to be followed in ocean science research funding proposals.
The NMEA Ocean Literacy Committee also made repeated contributions during the recent national effort to create the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to ensure marine and ocean subjects were included throughout. The committee continues to actively support implementation of NGSS by developing implementation tools, designing professional development and influencing in policymakers.
Ocean literacy efforts in the U.S. have encouraged similar efforts around the world. University courses that follow ocean literacy principles are being taught in Australia, and educators in Portugal, China, and Japan have translated and adapted the work for their use. Also, ocean educators in Chile and Brazil, many Pacific Island nations, and throughout the European Union are using these principles as a basis for their programs as well.
Supporting the International Community
Our International Committee supports increasing global participation in marine education and the promotion of ocean literacy around the world. Over the years, we've seen increased attendance from international educators at our annual conferences and we've actively supported the creation of marine education networks and conferences in the Pacific region and in Europe.
The International Pacific Marine Educators Network was formed and had its first conference in Honolulu in 2007, and has since continued to hold a conference every two years in different locations around the Pacific. Their most recent conference was held in Japan in 2014.
The first European conference on ocean literacy was held in Bruges, Belgium, in 2012 as a result of inspiration and encouragement from NMEA members. The result of this conference was the formation of the European Marine Science Education Association (EMSEA). EMSEA held its first meeting in Plymouth, England, in 2013, which was followed up by another in Gothenburg, Sweden, in October of 2014. Their next conference will be held in Heraklion, Crete, in September 2015.
NMEA was also represented at an European meeting to promote transatlantic ocean science cooperation, which was held in Galway in 2013. A statement to encourage transatlantic ocean literacy was included in the conference agreement and there are plans for an online workshop in 2014 to support further work in transatlantic ocean literacy.
A one day international ocean literacy day is also planned for our annual conference in Newport in June 2015.