A Stewart in bamfield

This site celebrates the west coast marine environment and promotes ocean literacy in Canada.

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Drift cards from Burrard Inlet, Vancouver show up on outer west coast: modelling oil spill movement

driftcard burrard oct-dec13
Drift cards are showing up at Keeha Beach near Bamfield, BC, Canada from both the Vancouver area and from Port Angeles and the Elwah River on Washington State’s Olympic Pennisula. These cards model the movement of oil on the water. See here for technical backgrounder. I found the cards in Huu-ay-aht First Nations territory on the beach fronting their Treaty Lands at Keeha. A good reminder that we are all connected as one, a guiding principle of the Nuu-chah-nulth-aht. Anne Stewart

It is really one big ocean, all connected.

It is really one big ocean, all connected.

If you asked Chris Hadfield what colour our planet is, he would probably say blue. Earth is the blue planet because of all the water and 97% of that water is in the ocean. In Canada we front three of the great ocean basins, and even if we don’t live near the sea, we are linked to it in many ways. Weather and climate are shaped by the ocean and our watersheds drain into the ocean. Many of our favorite foods come from the ocean, many meats are produced with fish meal and many crops benefit from fish fertilizer. Consumer goods travel across the ocean to get to us and of course the ocean is a source for inspiration, recreation and holidaying. Let’s not forget ecosystem services like oxygen production. Ocean plankton produce about 50% of our oxygen: that works out to every second breath we take. This is just the tip of the iceberg, we are undeniably linked to the ocean and it is essential to be ocean literate, both as global citizens and as Canadians. Ocean literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean.

Canada has reason to celebrate the important ocean literacy efforts already happening across the country and Canada also has some catching up to do. To help with the catch-up, CaNOE is launching: the Canadian Network for Ocean Education is not rocket science but its goals are to advance and celebrate ocean literacy in Canada. Like artist Bill Reid’s famous Haida Canoe depicted on the old twenty dollar bill, it is a diverse and very Canadian CaNOE.

Using a broad and inclusive process, the Americans have developed an ocean literacy framework encompassing seven essential principles, supported by fundamental concepts. Over the last decade, they have created an overview matrix relating to National Science Standards and are working on connections to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) curriculum. The Europeans are in their second year of promoting ocean literacy and face many of the same challenges as Canada, such as multiple languages and distinct educational jurisdictions. We can learn from both the Americans and Europeans in advancing ocean literacy in Canada and at the same time keep CaNOE uniquely Canadian.

In the US, the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) has been instrumental in advancing ocean literacy and helped with the creation of the European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA). Recently, the board of the regional NMEA chapter, Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME), voted unanimously to support ocean literacy in Canada. NAME covers BC, Oregon, Washington state and Alaska. The BC Chapter of NAME has taken on Ocean Literacy as this year’s theme and encourages you to get on board in your region.

Canada, the US and the European Union (EU) have committed to fostering public understanding of the ocean as part of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean cooperation signed in June, 2013. This summer, I attended the EMSEA Conference on Ocean Literacy and an EU workshop on Trans-Atlantic Ocean Literacy in Plymouth, UK. As the only Canadian at the workshop, I was honoured to be witness to the process and can report that the Europeans are going ahead with ambitious plans to promote an ocean literacy agenda and they encourage their trans-Atlantic neighbours to do the same. Canada’s CaNOE is a key vessel to bring together diverse Canadians who support ocean literacy, to identify best practices and communicate about sustainable “blue growth” strategies: yes, the new green is blue.

CaNOE launches in the next few weeks. The international groundswell, is creating wonderful momentum and helping to turn the tide on ocean literacy in Canada. CaNOE is moving and you are invited aboard. If you are interested, contact MFreyATroyalbcmuseum.bc.ca CaNOE steering committee.