New ‘Ocean Literacy’ tools educate, while changing attitudes and behaviours

© Valentyn Volkov, Shutterstock

If marine issues are to involve everyone, one project knew it had to set its compass for horizons beyond the ‘science education’ of traditional ocean literacy, dropping anchor in lands with names like ‘Blue Growth’ to get all actors on-board.

With the ocean beset by multiple challenges, such as climate change and plastics pollution, there is a concerted effort to increase ocean literacy (OL) to ensure the sustainability of marine ecosystems. OL encompasses awareness raising, capacity building and education about the ocean’s functioning, health and relationship to human activities. The EU-supported Respon-SEA-ble (Sustainable oceans: our collective responsibility, our common interest. Building on real-life knowledge systems for developing interactive and mutual learning media) project used participatory techniques (the living lab approach) to develop a range of OL products and interactive guidance for practitioners (a WebDocumentary), accessible to interested parties including educators, businesses, trainers, policy makers and the media. Information overboard?

Respon-SEA-ble reached clear conclusions about where to concentrate their efforts. “In many cases, there is too much information about the status of the marine ecosystem and too little about social and economic impacts. This is compounded by lack of clarity for targeted audiences about what action is most needed,” says project coordinator Dr Olga Mashkina. The project concluded that effective change comes from combining initiatives at different parts of the value chain, as evidenced by current efforts to ban microplastics in cosmetics. Additionally, the causes of many marine problems, such as plastics pollution, are actually land-based.

Respon-SEA-ble focussed on six thematic areas curated as ‘key stories’ – sustainable fisheries/aquaculture marine renewable energies eutrophication maritime transport sustainable tourism and microplastics – all contributing to marine ecosystems’ health connecting to existing policies and relevant to actors capable of driving change (e.g. policy makers producers and consumers). These key stories illustrate current knowledge on the (direct and indirect) links between human activities and marine ecosystems, different types of information and mechanisms for sharing it (also identifying gaps) and constraints/opportunities in terms of practical actions and behaviour change. The project created, tested and assessed a range of OL tools and products including: a series of games; short documentaries; cartoons; an IT platform for sharing marine knowledge with ferry passengers; an education module for children/schools and a training programme for fishermen. “To ensure their effectiveness, the tools were co-designed with key stakeholders,” says Dr Mashkina. “Additionally, we sought feedback on whether they made a difference to how users understood issues, felt about them and were ready to act.” The feedback so far has been positive, and analyses of assessment results are leading to recommendations for an interactive OL WebDoc platform which will be released at the end of the project (March 2019).

Lasting change Project learning has led to specific suggestions to maximise opportunities in existing policies (such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive), strengthening OL for different target groups. Specific attention has also been given to how OL could be embedded for regional seas by aligning with local sea conventions and activities, as well as contributing to Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation, involving US/Canadian actors. “We have moved ocean literacy beyond schools and a purely scientific focus, making it inclusive, reminding everyone that we are all responsible!” says Dr Mashkina. “Seeing OL attracting more attention through research calls, policy documents or international initiatives, makes us feel that our drop has already contributed to ripples of change.”

More information : 

Original article from the EC Cordis website

A major event : Ocean Dialogues 2019 in Brussels


Ocean Dialogues 2019 is a joint event between the H2020 research projects MARINA and ResponSEAble – in cooperation with the European Parliament – SEARICA intergroup & IOCUNESCO – on the role of Ocean Literacy and Responsible Research and Innovation in supporting effective Ocean Governance.

The event will take place on 18-20 March 2019 in Brussels.

The aim of the Ocean Dialogues 2019 is to identify solutions for the development of a sound ocean knowledge system that can support effective ocean governance, by addressing challenges such as engagement, co-creation and shared responsibility.

Working at the interface between society, policy and science, the event will feed into ongoing ocean-related knowledge and management initiatives. It will provide inputs to the Preparatory process of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. More widely, the active participation of ongoing projects working on RRI and Ocean Literacy will ensure the legacy of the MARINA and ResponSEAble projects. The outcome of the Ocean Dialogues 2019 will be a manifesto that will state how to make RRI and OL effective and successful including in seizing opportunities that the policy framework offers.
The policy implications of the manifesto will be presented and discussed at a dedicated policy workshop organised at the European Parliament.

Ocean Dialogues 2019 is articulated in:
18 – 19 March 

  • The conference: 1.5 days with plenary, parallel sessions in key marine challenges and
    sectors, and roundtables and panel discussions
  •  The Demo Deck, where participants will be invited to test tools and products developed by MARINA, ResponSEAble and parallel initiatives for supporting effective research and innovation & ocean literacy
  • The workshop dedicated to Youth & Young Professionals

20th March

  • A policy workshop at the EU Parliament (by invitation only)

On twitter #oceandialogues2019

Live streaming

ResponSEAble meets HELCOM

The Baltic Sea Action Plan is under revision. Originally adopted in 2007 by all coastal states and the EU, it was born with the vision to make the Baltic Sea become healthy again. Thus, combating eutrophication, bringing hazardous substances back to natural levels, guaranteeing thriving and balanced plant and animal communities were some of many actions on the agendas of HELCOM and the member states.

Now, two years before reach the finish line, we unfortunately must accept: the Baltic Sea Action Plan will not be able to meet its goals by 2021 – and needs to be revised and strengthened for the future.

Coalition Clean Baltic and ResponSEAble is convinced that the revision and improvement process should include environmental advice and perspectives from NGOs of the Baltic Sea Region. Therefore, they invited to a NGO brainstorm meeting in Helsinki on March 5th, one day prior to the 40th HELCOM meeting. The NGO meeting took place in the HELCOM secretariat and was keeping its goal to formulate a joint set of recommendations and suggestions to be integrated in the upcoming update of the Baltic Sea Action Plan. These recommendations were then presented at the HELCOM meeting and were perceived with open minds and the willingness to join forces.

The audience understood that raising awareness of the matter is not enough and that disseminating information alone does not change behaviour. Motivating pro-environmental behaviour change of all involved actors and stakeholders of an environmental issue by approaching them with improved narratives, speaking their languages and addressing their needs is urgently needed. Thus, the ReponSEAble approach and the concept of building capacity on ocean literacy was perceived as well-fitting concept to be followed up with. HELCOM agreed to use learnings and outcomes of ResponSEAble and accepted the ResponSEAble policy brief titling “Raising awareness and building capacity about eutrophication: Integrating ocean literacy in the Baltic Sea Action Plan” [add link to policy brief] as official HELCOM document.

We believe that ocean literacy must be the base for human environment interactions. Building capacity means to educate actors and stakeholders to understand the impact of and responsibility behind their actions. Therefore, we are happy and proud that the ResponSEAble approach and its findings makes its way into policy and decision making across borders.


How can we use the plastic debate as a catalyst to increase ocean literacy?



On 4th and 5th of December 2018, ResponSEAble participated in the marine science communication conference CommOcean in Southampton, that was organized by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the European Marine Board.
Over 100 participants – scientists, NGO representatives and policy makers – from all over the world gathered to discuss the status-quo and the opportunities to improve marine science communication and ocean literacy. Numerous campaigns, communication tools and success stories to raise awareness about the oceans and humans’ connection and responsibility to protect them were shared and discussed. Presenters shared a colourful bouquet of communication formats such as scrollytelling, tiny letter newsletters and international social media campaigns and reported about the struggles they faced when doing outreach while being on expeditions at sea.

ResponSEAble shared two different communications: the project partners UBO, Océanopolis and ACTeon presented the quiz game “The Ocean and Me”. Displayed as poster, the partners Baltic Environmental Forum (offices in Germany, Estonia, Lativa), GRID Arendal and the Institute of Oceanology showed the main findings of the key story eutrophication and agriculture.

“How can we use the plastic debate as a catalyst to increase ocean literacy?”, was one of the main questions provoking vibrant discussions during the two-day conference.
As ocean communicators, it is now our urgent task to learn from successful campaigns – that are currently mainly addressing plastic pollution – to raise awareness for threats that are less visible to the public. Threats such as unstainable fishing practises, ecosystem invasion of alien species or death zones caused by nutrient pollution.
Wherever and whenever humans and oceans interact, there is a chance for humans to increase their welfare and a danger for the oceans to become exploited. Let us become ocean literate and treat the oceans with greater respect. Let us be responsSEAble!

The webinars : replay them!


How can we encourage Europeans to take a closer interest in their seas and to treat them with greater respect?

  • What knowledge do they need?
  • Who needs to know what ? 
  • How we should communicate it?
  • Which conditions for translating “better knowledge” into acts?
  • By generating greater public debate and knowledge, ResponSEAble project, intends to support all sectors of European society to develop a more informed and responsible attitude and help secure healthier and more sustainable seas.We are inviting you to our  series of interactive webinars to discuss how to collectively build effective ocean literacy in Europe!

    Why you should attend?

    The webinars aimed at sharing views , challenges and best practices on ocean literacy in all its dimensions, widening the European community of ocean literacy practitioners.

    If you are

    • Involved in developing communication tools about the marine environment or the sustainable development of maritime sectors
    • Developing strategies for raising awareness for specific target groups on the human-sea interactions;
    • Scientist involved in education initiatives on the sea with educators and civil society organisations, children and youths;
    • Manager, planner, economic actor or concerned citizen interested in “making things better”

    You will have views and questions to share in our webinars in connection with others working on the same challenges. Together, we might discover practical solutions on how to build more effective Ocean Literacy in Europe (and across the Atlantic).

    When it will take place?

    • The webinars will take place every second Thursday of the month (except July and August)  and start at 4 pm CET.
    • Duration of each webinar is 1 hour

    How you can participate?

    Please register at the link below for the webinar you would like to attend. The information about the webinar will be sent to you.

    Save the dates and register!

A learning game for Ocean Literacy and education to sustainability

How much plastic is discharged every day in the ocean? What does eutrophication mean? Why are the sandy beaches increasingly smaller? And what can we do to improve the health of the marine environment? Knowing the answers to these questions means to become “ocean literate”. Those who live far from the sea may not be aware of the impact that our daily choices have on the marine ecosystem and we may not know how much the sea, which covers about 70% of the globe, contributes to our wellbeing by regulating the climate and providing oxygen and nourishment.

The aim of the game is to conquer all the stages of the game by solving the quizzes presented in the five Stories. You navigate the archipelago and overcome various challenges, related to the health of our ocean and the connected value chain. In the journey, you can get more points and rest a bit with some mini-games. Once you have completed all the challenges of the game, you will be able to take a selfie and it will be published on the starting screen of the game: it will be the way to show your commitment safeguarding our Ocean.

The game lends itself very well to personal use at the same time as a teaching resource in the classroom, for example, discussing materials and questions.

The game is free, without advertising and does not collect personal data and is available in the stores for Android and IOS(iPhone/iPad).

android ios

For further information contact

Workshop in Lisbon on Ocean Literacy


The event brought together about 30 people from different organizations working with ocean literacy in Portugal (from schools and university educators, research projects to other practitioners, NGOs, etc). The workshop was organized by Celia Quico (Lusofona University) to share the findings of the H2020 project ResponSEAble and to understand Portugeese perspective.

Pierre Strosser (ACteon) opend the workshop with questions about ocean literacy – what type of knowledge do we need,  for whom and link between ocean literacy and behaviour change – ‘even if I am know, will I act? ‘Taking a look at the images in the room of the museum ‘XXx’ he highlighted the importance of understanding the story of what is important to know for people to change their behaviour: what economic activities, what drives us to certain activities, how this changes the state and the impact, and what is a response.

In presentations and discussions the importance of different channels for targeting different audiences was highlighted – illustration brought by Erik Bogaard (ProSea) working with fishermen, and trust/preference of certain channels over others was presented;

The participants were taken out to try out ‘ocean literacy ‘game – presented by Johanna Ballé-Béganton ( UBO/Oceanopolis)  – which gave another example and approach how to engage with different audiences (first time piloted during the World Ocean Day in Porte Dorée Aquarium in Paris.

Importance of assessing effectiveness was raised by Matthew ASHLEY, University of Plymouth and one of the conclusions of the workshop was to apply the approach in the future – to help understanding and improving the way the ocean literacy products (courses, media, etc..) is produced and applied..

The workshop was completed with a quiz  – where participants were invited to test their knowledge in a interactive form with mobile phone –

As a results : it doesn’t help to know whether you are good about the facts about the ocean. Most of the information that is usually checked in the quizes doesn’t help us to change our behaviour.

It is viewed by many participants as a good way to raise these issues.

After the workshop, participants were invited to visit the museum.

Connecting People to Their Oceans: Issues and Options for Effective Ocean Literacy


In collaboration with the journal Frontiers in Marine Science we are bringing together a selected group of international experts to contribute to an open-access article collection on this on the issues and options for effective OL worldwide.

It discusses:

  1. existing experiences in OL (formal and informal education for children, training for professionals, tools for raising awareness of consumers  – and of investors in the marine sectors…) and their effectiveness (from understanding better to acting differently)
  2. the role OL could play (in interaction with innovation, regulation, economic incentive, social norms…) to support human capital development as key component of sustainable growth;
  3. pre-conditions for effective OL for different sectors and target groups.

Questions relevant to OL include: Which knowledge  – produced by whom  – to share and how? Who to target  – and how to effectively reach those targeted? How to design OL initiatives  – including by mobilizing those targeted (via living lab approaches e.g.)  – to ensure effective OL and pave the way for behavior change? What are the knowledge gaps that limit our capacity to design effective OL? As scientists, it is likely you have many more questions to offer and discuss.

It is expected that contributions will: (a) come from marine scientists, educators, training specialists, psychologists and social scientists, marine governance and sector policy specialists…; (b) cover different seas with clear cultural and sea-connection differences  – with some experiences from outside Europe used as source of inspiration; (c) investigate different scales  – from local to large scale such as countries or entire socio-economic value chains; (d) address the science-policy interface  relevant to OL, discussing how policy(ies) might be adapted to better support effective OL.

Editorial team:

Dr. Angel Borja,   Dr. Francesca Santoro,  Dr. Gail Scowcroft,  Dr. Stephen Fletcher, and  Dr. Pierre Strosser


30 September 2018 – Abstract

15 December  2018 – Manuscript


ResponSEAble films at PELICAM film festival


The seventh edition of Pelicam – International Film Festival on Environment and People took place in Tulcea, Romania, at the gate of Danube Delta, between June 21 – 24, 2018. More than 40 environmental documentaries were lined up, together with debates, exhibitions, workshops, concerts and many other events. The program of the festival was more diversified than ever. Between the films from the competitions, there were special screenings, workshops, discussions and book releases

The European Commission chose Tulcea and the Pelicam festival to officially launch the EUandME campaign in Romania a campaign that aims to bring young people closer to European values.

Program of the screenings was very versatile, and among many others included: Among the Untamed Romania (Tom Barton -Humphreys, Romania, 2018); Weit: The Story of a Journey Around the World (Gwendolin Weisser, Patrick Allgaier, Germany, 2017); Not Without Us! (Sigrid Klausmann, Germany, 2016) and Sea of Life (Julia Barnes, Canada, 2017), Bluefish (Mert Gökalp, Turkey/Portugal/UK/Greece/Croatia, 2017), How Expensive Is Nature? (Daan Veldhuizen, Netherlands, 2017).

RESPONSEABLE short films (Rethinking Plastic and Responsible tourism) were screened throughout the frstival (June 21-23) at the opening and closure of the each of the days, and were watched by thousands of participants and guests from Romania from France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Armenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Turkey.

The films are now available in English and Romanian languages.