The COLC will advance ocean literacy in Canada. It will gather the collective strengths of Canada’s diverse networks, organizations, institutions, communities, and individuals to establish a strategic path and coordinate positive ocean actions.

Why does the ocean matter?

Simply put, the ocean is the determining life system on the planet. The ocean provides us with food, medicine, mineral and energy resources, and the oxygen for every second breath we take. The ocean regulates our national and global climate. It absorbs 25–30% of all carbon emissions created by human activities and 80% of the heat added to the global system. Canada’s ocean and its resources provide over $20 billion in annual economic activity and billions more in ocean trade. The ocean is also one of the most heavily impacted ecosystems by human activity.

Why is ocean literacy important?

Following the 2017 United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference, UNESCO recognized the importance of helping citizens understand, appreciate, and care for the ocean. Known as ocean literacy, this civic relationship with the ocean involves understanding our impact on the ocean and the ocean’s impact on us. Ocean literacy is a growing global priority. It has been included as a strategic objective for the 2021–2030 UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Why is ocean literacy in Canada essential?

In Canada, there is a growing interest in ocean literacy. For coastal communities, Indigenous people, aquaculture companies, small-scale fishing communities, and ocean industries the ocean plays an essential role in their daily lives. This connectedness to the ocean is directly linked to livelihoods, food security, and socio-cultural well-being. The ocean also plays a critical role in the overall well-being of all Canadians, even those 27 million+ living inland. As Canadians, we must consider how ocean literacy reflects Canada’s unique and diverse regions, communities, and interests. Beyond a scientific definition, the term ‘literacy’one that currently implies certain social contexts, and risks leaving out local and Indigenous Knowledgemust recognize the differing knowledge systems and ocean relationships across Canada.