Ocean Literacy

Ocean Literacy

What is it?

If literacy is the way in which we interpret and make sense of our world, then ocean literacy is the way in which we understand the ocean’s influence on us and, in turn, our human influence on the ocean.

Our Ocean Our Oxygen
Why is it important?

Our health and well-being depends on the health of our seas and oceans. To ensure a healthy ocean for us now and for future generations, we all need to be better informed about how the ocean affects us and how what we do affects the oceans.

Where are we now?

AORA coordinates marine science educators in Europe, the US and Canada to better inform and engage citizens about the ocean’s influence on them and their influence on the ocean.

Through AORA, for the first time, there is now a transatlantic strategy on ocean literacy.

Some achievements to date:

  • The Sea Change project has helped change the way citizens view their relationship with the sea, by empowering them, as ocean literate citizens, to take direct and sustainable action towards healthy oceans and seas, healthy communities, and, ultimately, a healthy planet. A video on the key achievements of the Sea Change Project is available here.
  • The ResponSEAble project looks at ways to help people understand their personal connections to the sea. Whether living on the coast or inland, the project’s goal has been to figure out how to encourage us all to take an interest in the oceans, improve our understanding of it, and to treat it with greater respect.

The project has developed and is testing the effectiveness of several innovative ‘ocean literacy tools’ for different audiences.

How are we doing it?

The challenge to create a community of engaged, Atlantic Ocean-literate citizens must be met collaboratively.

Together, we are encouraging our citizens’ understanding of the value of the Atlantic, how it affects us, and how we affect it, by building an Atlantic Ocean-aware community of researchers, policymakers, businesses and citizens.

Under AORA, ocean educators in Canada, the EU and the USA are now collaborating on ocean literacy projects through the EU Horizon 2020 research programme.

School lesson plans from Canada, the European Union, and the United States of America are available to share.

Together with global organisations such as IOC-UNESCO, AORA shares this vision, results and tools with the rest of the world.

An element of ocean literacy is now being incorporated into ocean research funding calls.


ResponSEAble is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 andd has 15 partners from around the European Union. This diverse group has been trying to figure out how to connect people to their seas and to help them better understand the complex human-ocean relationship. The reason is simple: if people have better knowledge they will make responsible decisions – in other words, they will become “ocean literate”.
Sea Change is an EU H2020 funded project that aims to establish a fundamental 'Sea Change' in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea, by empowering them, as ocean literate citizens, to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean, healthy communities and ultimately a healthy planet.


Drafted by the Marine Working Group Ocean Literacy of the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance