Making ocean literacy inclusive and accessible

By One Ocean Hub Author: Kerry Sink (et al)

Cold-water corals and seastas. Credit: IFREMER / Supplied from the ATLAS project

“Engagement in marine science has historically been the privilege of a small number of people with access to higher education, specialised equipment and research funding. Such constraints have often limited public engagement and may have slowed the uptake of ocean science into environmental policy. Recognition of this disconnect has spurred a growing movement to promote ocean literacy, defined as one’s individual understanding of how the ocean affects people and how people affect the ocean. Over the last 2 decades, this concept has gained significant traction in marine biology and environmental education circles and now plays a prominent role in the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). Here, we argue that the ocean literacy agenda has largely been shaped and discussed by marine scientists and educators but needs to be expanded to a much larger constituency to be more effective, accessible and inclusive. We discuss diverse cultural settings from around the world and provide examples of indigenous, spiritual, art, ocean user and other groups that are already deeply engaged with the ocean and could provide a variety of perspectives to enrich the ocean literacy concept beyond an understanding of marine science. We suggest that such inclusiveness could remove the historic barriers that have surrounded the field, transform our collective awareness of and relationship with the ocean and help support ongoing efforts to restore marine biodiversity…”