The 5th EMSEA (European Marine Science Educators Association) conference opened in style on Monday at the Valletta campus of the University of Malta, with a video message by Commissioner Karmenu Vella and deliveries by Minister Jose Herrera and Rector Prof Alfred Vella. This annual appointment which brings together ocean literacy practitioners from all around Europe, Canada, the US and even parts of Asia, is being attended by over 100 delegates and is featuring almost 70 presentations, which can be consulted online.
According to Prof. Alan Deidun from the Department of Geosciences of the University of Malta, the convener of the conference, the main aim of ocean literacy is to make the public in general aware of the role played by the ocean in our lives, with ocean literacy revolving around seven cardinal principles, which can be consulted at the following link.
Good practice in ocean literacy is showcased at EMSEA conferences, with innovative teaching and awareness-generation tools and protocols being demonstrated. The operations of the TED (Turtle Excluder Device) were also featured at the conference, at the behest of presentations from the US State Department, with two TED contraptions being donated to Malta as a result of the conference. A keynote speech by Dr. Awni Behnam, Honorary President of the International Ocean Institute (IOI), was also delivered at the conference.
Prior to the main conference, a training seminar for forty local teachers was organised at the Malta National Aquarium, where hands-on coastal field work sessions and technology in the classroom were showcased to teachers in attendance. Another highlight of the conference was the featuring of the Eco-School Youth Summit proceedings and Declaration involving over 80 local students, under the supervision of Prof. Paul J Pace, as well as of an overview of the Our Ocean Schools art projects. The Our Ocean conference actively promoted the EMSEA conference and in fact exponents from DG Mare participated to the EMSEA teachers’ training seminar.
The EMSEA Malta conference was supported financially by the following sponsors: MSDEC, MEDE, ERA, the Malta National Aquarium, the US Embassy in Malta and HSBC. The conference comes to an end on Tuesday with a complementary screening of the Plastic Ocean documentary, courtesy of the US Embassy.