What the Galway Statement means for Canada’s oceans

By Andrea Moore

On May 24, 2013, government representatives from Canada, the U.S. and the European Union signed the “Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation” at the Marine Institute in Galway, Ireland. Its main goal being “to better understand the Atlantic Ocean and promote the sustainable management of its resources.” The statement emphasizes the importance of not only scientists and research but also of citizens and education.

“We further intend to promote our citizens’ understanding of the value of the Atlantic by promoting oceans literacy. We intend to show how results of ocean science and observation address pressing issues facing our citizens, the environment and the world and to foster public understanding of the value of the Atlantic Ocean.”

The statement commits the EU, Canada and the US to take stock and to utilize multilateral cooperation frameworks to advance an ambitious research and education agenda.

Building on the momentum created by the Galway Statement, in Sept. of 2013, participants at the 2nd Annual European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) conference formulate the “Vision Statement on TransAtlantic Ocean Literacy” with three critical goals in view:

1) Encouraging transatlantic cooperation to promote worldwide ocean literacy;

2) Working together on ways to develop ocean-literate people who can understand the essential principles about the ocean, can communicate about the ocean in meaningful ways and are able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its resources; and

3)Creating a definition of Atlantic ocean literacy that is relevant to all people who have contact with, influence on, or are influenced by the Atlantic.

The “Galway Statement” and the “Vision Statement on Transatlantic Ocean Literacy” lay the foundation of a new movement towards ocean literacy across the Atlantic Ocean. They will help inspire collaborative efforts in communication, education and research and promote the pooling of resources towards mutually beneficial outcomes. Canada’s ocean literacy initiatives are continuing to develop, and international agreements such as these are solid foundations from which to continue building.