Bringing the Ocean to Society
17 Dec 2018
The extra mile for marine science communicators
How can communication take advantage of the hype on plastics to inspire inventive and effective change on the rest of marine issues?

EurOcean was once again present at the most important event dedicated to the communication of marine science in Europe: CommOCEAN 2018. Executive-Director, Ned Dwyer and Communication Officer, Tiago Garcia travelled to Southampton (UK) to learn about the latest trends, methods and strategies being employed by researchers, communicators, journalists and educators to promote the outcomes of marine research and their circulation throughout the whole of society, to raise awareness for ocean literacy and to promote key global initiatives like the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)Check out the programme of CommOCEAN 2018 here.

Continuing the tradition of having CommOCEAN conferences taking place in not so convetional venues, the 2018 edition was held at the St. Mary's Stadium, home of Southampton FC.

EurOcean contributed to the conference scientific review panel and in addition co-organised – together with UCC MaREI (Ireland), IOPAN (Poland) and CIIMAR (Portugal) - a World Café workshop on Using the Plastic Debate as a Catalyst for Ocean Literacy which aimed at answering questions like:

  • What else do communicators need to do to open up the debate from marine plastics to circular economy and ocean literacy?
  • What goals should communicators target to promote change instead of simply creating hype?
  • What success stories can be used to increase people’s awareness of the effects they have on the ocean and inspire them to change about plastics?
  • What communication actions are more effective to motivate people to change old habits?
  • How should the communicators segment their audiences to effectively communicate ocean literacy?
  • What is more effective in terms of ocean literacy communication: a strategy for each target group or one single recipe for all?

Thirty participants worked together to define a number of priority actions for communicators interested in using the hype on marine plastic to raise awareness on other marine issues.

The participants voted on their preferred actions and the results can be used by anyone involved in communicating marine science or promoting ocean literacy to fine tune their communication strategies or to design an efficient media campaign. The participants were also asked to select what should be the follow-up of the workshop: the most favoured outcome was to convert the outputs of the workshop into an infographic . We believe the in-house artist responsible to illustrate the action of the conference took good care of it immediately:

At the CommOCEAN 2018, BBC’s Science Editor, David Skhuman, commented on the infographic developed live by Emma Paxton to present the results of our World Café as an example of how dense information can be simplified to reach out to the general public and help them become interested and eager to learn more.

The World Café participatory method was employed after its broad and successful application in many of the 40+ workshops that the H2020-funded MARINA project ran between 2016 and 2018 all over Europe to promote the implementation of Responsible Research and Innovation on marine matters.

EurOcean also invited our dear friend Marri Morrison (a speaker at the Professor Mário Ruivo commemoration event in June 2018) to attend the event and the organisers gave her the opportunity during the closing session to inspire more people with her fascinating stories about how the cultural and historical heritage of coastal locations are so important in any ocean literacy activity.


CommOCEAN 2018 was the 3rd International Marine Science Communication Conference. It followed on from the first conference in Porto, Portugal in 2014 and the second in Bruges, Belgium in 2016. The event was created and is organised by the European Marine Board.