a large group of people posing in front of a fishing net

Our History

Get to Know us

World Ocean Day was created in 1992 at the Earth Summit – UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro.

In the mid-1990s the American school system was recognized as not having any ocean education which started the term ocean literacy.

The term “ocean literacy” was used to help address this gap in the curriculum by scientists and educators.

An ocean literate person understands the basic ocean function and makes personal, community, and business choices that help recover and maintain ocean health.

An ocean literate person is able to communicate about the ocean in a meaningful way and is able to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the ocean and its gifts.

Our Mission

Contributing to Ocean Literacy

We strive to increase access to ocean education in Canada through our vast network of collaborators and members. We accomplish this goal through Ocean Education Opportunities and Networking via collaboration and connection.


What’s the difference between Ocean Education and Ocean Literacy?

Ocean education is the process of learning about ocean life, ocean geography, and human interactions with the ocean, and gaining the information necessary to formulate your own opinions on ocean-related issues. Ocean literacy is a broader term that encompasses ocean education; it involves understanding the ocean and our relationship with it (to learn more about ocean literacy, check out COLC’s Ocean Literacy Tools). In other words, ocean education is one very important component of ocean literacy! Another important aspect of ocean literacy is developing and growing a personal connection with the ocean and waterways.

View CaNOE’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan

CaNOE’s Evolvement

  • 2012

    • EMSA European Marine Science Educators Association (EMSEA) founded
  • 2013

    • Ocean School Project proposed at Dalhousie University
    • At the Environmental Education and Communication (EECOM) conference, Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) leads a workshop on ocean literacy in Canada. Resulting in a small group committing to further Canadian ocean literacy through an organization specific to that effort
    • At the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME) conference another workshop co led by ONC and NAME, resulting in a board vote to support a collaboration with a Canadian Ocean Literacy group
    • A steering committee was formed called the Canadian Network for Ocean Education of CaNOE
    • Galway Statement established and signed by the US, EU and Canada placed ocean literacy as a foundational and crosscutting theme for transatlantic research cooperation. The signing was followed in Europe by substantial financial commitments to the ocean literacy projects Sea Change and ResponSEAble, both funded through Blue Growth, Horizon 2020. These projects are also buoyed by the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) – Coordination and Support Action Project (AORA-CSA). The implementation of the Galway Statement is achieved internationally through AORA with senior tripartite leadership and through tripartite working groups that collaborate on areas of identified mutual cooperation.
  • 2014

    • CaNOE becomes an official non profit society in BC
    • Member sign up begins and a bimonthly newsletter is established SPLASHmail
  • 2015

    • CaNOE starts participating in ocean literacy conversations with like-minded groups
    • Including PD workshops on OL in Victoria BC with ONC and the Royal BC museum
    • Galway Statement Implementation
    • CaNOE hosts its first conference in Vancouver with support from Meopar, UBC, Vancouver Aquarium, Science World, Walk the Talk, Green Schools and the City of Vancouver, with Key Note Speaker Dr. Boris Worm
    • The founding board is elected officially at the 2015 AGM
    • Anne Stewart represents CaNOE at the All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) Ocean Literacy working group meeting in Brussels including Ivan Conessa-Alcolea of European Commission and Paula Keener of NOAA
    • Anne Stewart represents CaNOE at the 1st meeting of the Sea Change International advisory group with an Ocean Literacy panel, in Lisbon along with EU commission marine section head who also announces the adoption of essential ocean science literacy principles
    • Educational Passages Program launched in Portugal with a school group as guests on a Portuguese naval vessel
    • CaNOE is represented at National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) international committee, European Marine Science Education Association (EMSEA) conference in Greece,
    • AORA coordinates the transformation of the Transatlantic Ocean Literacy Roadmap into an ocean literacy Transatlantic Implementation Strategy
    • Global Ocean Science Education (GOSE) hosts its first workshop put on by the Consortium on Ocean Science Education and Engagement (COSEE) 
    • The Liberal party of Canada in office with a platform including oceans, science, education, learning and technology

  • 2016

    • Talks begin on a partnership agreement between CaNOE and ONC
    • Membership 300
    • Establish an online membership platform service with Wild Apricot
    • The board forms working groups, terms of references and goals for CaNOE
    • Blue drinks program established
    • CaNOEs first 5 year Strategic Plan is released
    • CaNOE Conference 2016: Ocean Optimism Halifax NS June 7-12 with Keynote from Dr. Elin Kelsey

  • 2017

    • CaNOE holds its first membership drive, membership grows to 502 using Wild Apricot
    • CaNOE represented at ECCOM, Global Ocean Science Education (GOSE) workshop in Venice
    • CaNOE featured by EECOM publication “In the Sunlight”
    • Anne Stewart described CaNOEs place in Transatlantic Ocean Literacy initiatives to AORA
    • 2018 conference planning begins
  • 2018

    • ONC partnership is finalized
    • Membership drive, membership grows to 584
    • CaNOE is represented at SeaChange event, Paris, World Water Week, Stockholm, Canada’s Ocean toward 2020 Conference, Royal Ontario Museum
    • CaNOE to be a a part of an AORA working group on ocean literacy
    • The Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition (COLC) is formed
    • CaNOE Conference 2018: Navigating Canadian Ocean Literacy St. John’s NL July 13-15, 2018, Keynotes from Wendy Watson-Wright and Diz Glithero
    • An art piece was commissioned by CaNOE by Hjalmer Wenstob, who specializes in sculpture and carving, and is Nuu-Chah-Nulth from Tia-O-Qui-Aht First nation on his fathers side and Norwegian and English on his Mothers side. Raised in Barkley Sound in Huu-ay-aht territory on the West side of Vancouver Island
    • The design: Salmon are very important for the Nuu-Chah-Nulth peoples as well as other first nations peoples in the Pacific Northwest. An important food source that remind us of our connections across wide expanses of oceans and rivers through their migratory paths as well as the importance to the circle of life.
    • The paddle art shows the life cycle of the salmon represented through the fish egg on the handle

  • 2019

    • Ocean Week Canada planning begins
    • CaNOE and NAME agree to be partners for a 2020 conference
    • Heather Murray and Anne Stewart pass the co chair paddle on to Kiley Best and Holly Neate
    • CaNOE hires its first contract employee in partnership with the World Fisheries Trust
    • Membership grows to 657
    • CaNOE contributes to COLC research efforts
  • 2020

    • Ocean Week Canada established with a project with Canadian partners supported by UNESCO-CC and COLC to create a website for Canadian ocean week event hub and created a PSA for Oceans week
    • CaNOE hires a second contract employee
    • 2020 Conference Integrating virtual and hands-on marine education: experiences reflection and addressing challenges August 19, online with panelists Dr. Sanrda Scott, Tanner Owca, Ziyad Shukri, Laura McKillop, Patrick Wells and Abigail Speck

  • 2021

    • UNESCO Decade for Ocean Science and Sustainable Development is launched 2021-2030
    • CaNOE launches Ocean Education Wednesdays online content creation for middle and highschool educators in both French and English
    • COLC strategic plan released highlighting 9 action items for Canada
    • Ocean Festival and Ocean Week Canada project launched through COLC supported by DFO
    • CaNOE hires 2 contract employees
    • CaNOE launches a Webinar series
    • NAME CaNOE Conference 2021: Educating for Sustainable Seas: Diving into the Ocean Decade, online August 17-20 virtual