On 16 June 2021, the EMODnet Secretariat organized an online European Atlas of the Seas workshop which brought together the Atlas technical and communication teams, representatives from the European Commission Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), the Atlas partners Nausicaá and Escola Azul, data providers, members of the EU4Ocean Coalition - amongst which two Young Ocean Advocates and a representative of the Network of European Blue Schools - scientists, ocean advocates, teachers and professionals in the blue economy. Overall, 18 speakers and panelists shared their experiences and information about their work. A total of 90 participants from across Europe and beyond connected to the workshop with a peak of 54 participants at the same time. The workshop consisted of two sessions to which participants could register separately.
Session 1, titled ‘A window on the ocean, seas and coasts’ demonstrated the importance of the ocean and its conservation and how the European Atlas of the Seas can help us learn about and connect with the seas and ocean. In her opening speech, European Commission Policy Officer Zoi Konstantinou pointed out that ‘Today, more than ever, we need to invest and to develop further ocean literacy. We need to bring the European citizens closer to our seas and to communicate the importance of the ocean for our lives and engage them in conserving the systems”. Surfer, Marine Social Scientist and Atlas Ambassador Easkey Britton presented her activities and explained that “One of the reasons I am an ambassador of the Atlas is because it helps creating a culture of care". The technical team behind the Atlas, the EMODnet Secretariat and Bilbomatica, and one of the Atlas’ data providers, COGEA explained the different steps involved in the creation of the map layers. Furthermore, participants gained insight into how they can use the Atlas and stay informed on the latest developments. Finally, Nausicaá presented the many ways that the Atlas is used at the aquarium and new ideas to reach an even wider public.
Session 2 focused on education and ocean literacy. Following a presentation by the EMODnet Secretariat on the European Atlas of the Seas’ Teacher Corner, Patrícia Conceição from the Directorate General for Maritime Policy in Portugal (DGPM) presented the Escola Azul programme and the teachers’ valuable contributions to the educational content in the Teachers Corner. Furthermore, Vanessa Batista from Ciência Viva– ANCCT in Portugal explained how schools across Europe can join the Network of European Blue Schools. During the panel discussion, Escola Azul teachers, Vanessa Batista from Ciência Viva– ANCCT, Young Ocean Advocates Christian Esteva Burgos and Neus Figueras and Consultant & Founder of Women4Oceans Farah Obaidullah shared their motivation to work on the ocean and details on their inspirational projects and initiatives. Participants were encouraged to use the European Atlas of the Seas to work on their own projects, to join the EU4Ocean Coalition communities and to participate in the EU4Ocean Make Europe Blue campaign by making a pledge for the ocean. In addition to connecting people from ocean literacy communities, the workshop is expected to lead to many new ideas for engagement in ocean literacy and integration of the Atlas in schools.