The MBA is working with partners across Europe, the United States and Canada to embed ocean literacy in everything we do.  We are the co-ordinators of the Sea Change project aiming to establish a fundamental “Sea Change” in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea.

What is "Ocean Literacy" ?

Few of us are aware of how important the sea is to human wellbeing: medically, economically, socially, politically and environmentally. Many of us are unaware of how day-to-day choices and actions can have a cumulative effect on the health of the ocean – a necessary resource that must be protected for life on our blue planet to exist.

In other words, we often lack a sense of “Ocean Literacy” - an understanding of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean.

An Ocean-Literate person: 

  • Understands the importance of the ocean to humankind
  • Can communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way
  • Is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources

Working with partners across Europe, the United States and Canada we are seeking to make that 'Sea Change' in behaviour and the Ocean at the heart of all we do.

Between March 2015 - February 2018, the Marine Biological Association was the Coordinator of the Sea Change project, an €3.5 million EU Horizon 2020-funded project that addressed the challenge of raising European citizens’ awareness of the intrinsic links between the ocean and human health. 

Europe cannot achieve sustainable exploitation of marine resources and maintain a healthy ocean unless its citizens understand the full extent of the medical, economic, social, political and environmental importance of the sea to Europe and how their behaviour can have an impact on marine ecosystems. By developing “Ocean Literacy” (an understanding of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean) in Europe, Sea Change aimed to foster responsible behaviour of citizens towards the seas and ocean and their resources.

The project consortium was made up of 17 partners in 9 countries with an additional 6 third parties from ECSITE and the World Oceans Network (WON) plus an International Advisory Group chaired by Paula Keener from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA).  

A wealth of resources for citizens, educators and policy makers in several European languages were produced over the life of the project and are now freely available to use.

For more information please visit


The European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) is an informal non-profit organization. Founded in 2011 by Fiona Crouch (MBA), Evy Copejans (Flanders Marine Institute) and Geraldine Fauville (University of Gothenburg) the association provides a platform for ocean education and promoting ocean literacy within Europe. 


The particular goals and activities of EMSEA are the following:

  • Stimulate dialogue between European and international marine educators and scientists
  • Provide training and teaching materials to support marine educators
  • Raise educators awareness of ocean issues and the need for a sustainable future for our coasts, seas and oceans


  • to organise workshops and conferences for marine educators
  • to build a web portal with links to providers of marine educational and research-based materials
  • to provide a forum for members feedback and communication

EMSEA holds an annual conference at different locations across Europe. The first in 2013 was held in Plymouth supported by the MBA. Other locations include: Gothenburg, Crete, Belfast, Valletta and Newcastle. The conference provides an excellent opportunity for educators, scientists and policy makers to share best practice and discuss and design Ocean Literacy initiatives in Europe.

The next conference EMSEA19 will be held at the EXPOLAB, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, 16th - 20th September 2019. More information here.

The Ocean Literacy Principles were developed by hundreds of educators and scientists in the United States as a guide to teaching about the Ocean. These principles are now being used as a framework in Europe to develop strategies towards the goal of an Ocean Literate society.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Seven Principles of Ocean Literacy

1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.

3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.

4. The ocean made the Earth habitable.

5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

7. The ocean is largely unexplored.

For more information on ocean literacy and how you can get involved:

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Jon Parr

Head of Education

The Marine Biological Assocation

Citadel Hill