Ocean Literacy
The Ocean Literacy Framework was developed by a group of scientists and educators from the ocean sciences education community in the US. Their efforts built on previous work to define ocean literacy, assess what the public knows about the ocean, and redress the lack of ocean-related content in state and national science education standards, instructional materials and assessments.
The U.S. Ocean Literacy Framework is comprised of two consensus documents:
Ocean Literacy: The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences K-12 (also known as the Ocean Literacy Principles); and Ocean Literacy Scope and Sequence for Grades K-12 (also known as the Scope & Sequence).
Both of these documents are available on their website www.oceanliteracy.net  next to the full story how the ocean sciences education community came together to create these documents and ignite a movement within ocean sciences and beyond.
The European marine science community has accepted the open invitation to collaborate in a wider, international context on advancing ocean literacy. While worldwide people express serious concern about the protection and the health of the ocean, Europe has yet to provide a structure to make Ocean Literacy its priority. The next position paper of the European Marine Board, ‘Navigating the Future IV’ (McDonough et al. 2012, in press), which outlines the most important marine thematic research priorities for Europe (2012-2106), clearly states the urge to a European consensus on ocean literacy. Questions such as what ocean literacy means for our continent and what people should know of the ocean to make informed and responsible decisions need to be debated. A major concern is that the large variety in languages, educational systems and ways of living with the sea across Europe, will complicate the implementation of a future European Ocean Literacy plan.
Ocean literacy is seen as a prerequisite for Europe’s quest for a more marine-oriented economy and society. The European Marine Board (EMB) -and its Communication Panel (EMBCP)- is convinced that a more informed and concerned public will better understand the need to manage the ocean resources and marine ecosystems in a sustainable way.
The last years Portugal has made a large effort to place ocean literacy on the map for its science teachers. The Portuguese National Agency for Scientific and Technological Culture, Ciência Viva, launched in 2011 a version of the ocean literacy principles adapted to the Portuguese reality, linked to the Portuguese science curriculum: ‘Conhecer o Oceano (Knowing the Ocean), Principios Essenciais e Conceitos Fundamentais (Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts) ’. The ocean literacy principles and concepts were organized by the different levels of education and the science disciplines in a matrix. Within each matrix area, teachers can find the contact details of a scientist specialized in that particular science domain. The website http://www.cienciaviva.pt/oceano also offers relevant education materials, research publications, ocean policy documents, school projects and professional development opportunities. Portugal with its connection to the ocean and dedication to enhance ocean literacy, certainly serves as an example and inspiration for other European countries.