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Sustainable oceans : our collective responsibility, our common interest. Building on real-life knowledge knowledge systems for developing interactive and mutual learning media

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Respon-SEA-ble (Sustainable oceans : our collective responsibility, our common interest. Building on real-life knowledge knowledge systems for developing interactive and mutual learning media)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2016-09-30

There is widespread concern about the current state of European seas and the environmental problems that seas are facing as a result of human activities. These human impacts are either well established (e.g. fishing, shipping, waste discharges…) or emerging (e.g. aquaculture, recreation, renewable energy production, seabed mining….). There are also questions on how the status of marine ecosystems might evolve in the future in relation to the impact of climate change; to impact of continued demand for marine resources; and from the result of proactive policies aimed at promoting the development of blue growth sectors.
No matter how far from the sea they live, all Europeans are connected to the ocean. They go there for holidays, or for sport and recreation. The oceans are used for wind farms, oil and gas exploration, for transportation, fishing and aquaculture. In these ways, oceans touch the lives of Europeans living in the centre of the continent far away from coastlines, just as much as those who live and work in close proximity to the sea.
• Are Europeans fully aware of all their connection to seas which may often seem faraway?
• How much do they know, and do they have the “right” knowledge?
• How can we encourage Europeans to take more interest in marine issues, and to treat their oceans with greater respect and understanding?

Answering these questions is the main objective of ResponSEAble. The project’s goal is to raise the awareness among all European citizens that everyone has an interest in, and responsibility for, ocean health. A central principle of ResponSEAble is the need to understand more fully the relationship between a wide range of human activities and the marine ecosystems that are impacted by, and provide benefits for, many human activities. .
To address the complex interaction between people and the oceans, the project focuses on six main challenges (or stories) that are central to the protection of European seas, and to their contribution to the EU Blue Growth strategy, namely:
1. Promoting sustainable fisheries in the Atlantic;
2. Addressing the challenges of invasive species in the Mediterranean Sea;
3. Reducing eutrophication in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea;
4. Promoting sustainable coastal tourism in the Mediterranean Sea;
5. Taking actions to protect European seas from pollution by cosmetics and microplastics;
6. Promoting sustainable marine renewable energies in Europe.

ResponSEAble starts with what we know about the current state of the oceans, how economic activities directly or indirectly connect to it, and public perception and understanding of this connection. By doing so, the project identifies knowledge gaps in the public understanding of ocean literacy in Europe.
To be ‘ocean literate’ means to be aware of the importance of the ocean, to understand its influence on humans, and the influence humans have on the ocean. It means knowing how to protect the ocean, and to seize the opportunities it offers. An ocean literate person understands the essential principles and fundamental concepts of the human-ocean relationships, can communicate them, and is in a position to make informed and responsible decisions.
The underlying assumption of ResponSEAble is that investing in literacy will help change how Europeans view their relationship with the ocean. This will pave the way for changes in behavior which will ultimately reduce pressures on coastal and marine ecosystems.
The first part of the project focused on five priorities:
1. Consolidating the ResponSEAble multidisciplinary team and its common vision.
As many partners had not previously worked together, this has been an essential element of the first period. Three group meetings and several smaller work package meetings have helped to establish excellent working relationships between members of our team as follows: ecologists investigating the state of marine ecosystems, their pressures and their environmental impacts; socio-economists analyzing the marine-related value chains of the European economy; social scientists investigating stakeholders’ and citizens’ perception on the links between human activities and marine ecosystems; communication & information specialists investigating current ocean literacy initiatives and information technology specialists building the platform for structuring and capturing knowledge that will form the basis for ocean literacy initiatives developed under ResponSEAble in the second part of the project;
2. Developing the ResponSEAble conceptual frameworks to structure our activities and working processes. For example, specific attention was given to the structure of knowledge on the human-marine ecosystem relationships, and adapting the standard ‘Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR)’ to ‘Drivers-Actors (and Activities)-Pressures-State-Impact-(Welfare) - Response (DAPSI(W)R)’. This framework helps to structure knowledge in a more coherent and logical manner.
3. Building the knowledge base on human-marine relationships by developing an interactive computer-based tool structured on the DAPSI(W)R framework and populating the tool with available knowledge thanks to an extensive review of available literature. Combined, the information collated will provide a sound understanding of the links between economic activities organized within an overall economy and the pressures it imposes on marine ecosystems and eventually on human well-being (via the delivery, or absence of delivery, of ecosystem services) – as basis for the development of ocean literacy products and initiatives.
4. Investigating the marine-connected economic value chains – identifying main activities and actors that form these value chains, their interconnections and possible opportunities for (behavior) changes that would enhance the sustainability of marine ecosystems. Specific attention was also given to consumers.
5. Identifying and reviewing existing ocean literacy initiatives (target audiences, tools, content, producer…). In particular, a classification system of media genres that covers all relevant and accessible media for communication and sharing of content on the human-ocean relationship has been developed. Methodological approach has been developed to study the perceptions of different stakeholder groups.
Our analysis of the existing knowledge on human-ocean relationships has allowed us to have the following impacts:

Establishing a higher profile of Ocean Literacy in Europe
- Reviewing the knowledge that provides an essential foundation to Ocean Literacy – this is not just related to ecology, but also the wider socio-economic perspective which is central to us
- Moving the initial principles of Ocean Literacy further forward so they respond to EU policy and societal culture and challenges
2.Contributing to awareness-raising around ocean literacy, as a result of different events/initiatives. In particular:
-EU and wider: including Transatlantic work on ocean literacy and contribution to G7 initiative on marine litter

In the longer term by generating greater public debate and knowledge, ResponSEAble will assist all citizens and sectors of European society in making more informed choices that will help secure healthier and more sustainable oceans and will develop exciting communication and literacy products showcasing the links between the ocean and European citizens - no matter where they live on the continent.
Cartoon created for the project to bring attention to Human-Ocean relationships