Irish Ocean Literacy Network (IOLN) is the working name of an informal (non-legal entity) network established in 2016. It is aimed at bringing together relevant institutes, agencies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large corporate entities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), individuals and educators on the island of Ireland who are currently involved in, or would like to become involved in, working towards the IOLN vision.

This vision is to achieve an Ocean Literate society across the island of Ireland. An Ocean Literate society is described as one in which citizens understand the ocean’s influence on them and their influence on the ocean, can communicate efficiently about these connections and make informed and responsible decisions on ocean resources and ocean sustainability.

The mission of the Network is to create, maintain and develop an informal network of ocean literacy champions to facilitate collaboration, sharing and coordination of marine outreach and ocean literacy projects across the island of Ireland. In this view, the IOLN also aims at supporting initiatives and collaboration opportunities between network members and providing a platform for engagement with relevant stakeholders.

In November 2022 there were 132 members listed for IOLN, representing 97 individuals and organisations. Membership is free and open to any public or private entity on the island of Ireland which has an interest in working towards the vision of the Network. IOLN is governed by a voluntary Steering Committee (SC) whose main role is to guide the development of the Network. Any member of the Network may put themselves forward for the Steering Committee, and the position of Chair rotates. Day-to-day activities are carried out by a part-time Secretariat currently held by Galway Atlantaquaria which acts as a central contact and dissemination point for the Network and works in conjunction with the Steering Committee to define goals and deliverables to measure the impact and effectiveness of the Network.


Since its inception, the IOLN has hosted many networking events, workshops, etc., including the ‘We are islanders’ national campaign. The Network has also become recognised internationally as an advocate of ocean literacy and is involved in large-scale initiatives like the UNESCO Ocean Literacy Portal and Ocean Literacy with All, the EU4Ocean platform, and the EUROGOOS online platform, and is part of both the All-Atlantic and the European Blue Schools Networks. As part of these initiatives, in June 2022 the IOLN was one of the ten organisations to sign the new Charter for Blue Education in Europe developed within the frame of the EU4Ocean Coalition and its Network of Blue schools, whereas in October 2022 the IOLN featured at the 2nd Ocean Literacy Dialogues event, which was held in Brazil. Here we participated to the first in-person meeting of the National Coordinators of the All-Atlantic Blue Schools Network, represented by Dr. Noirin Burke (Coordinator for Ireland).

Currently, the IOLN is one of the ocean literacy networks involved in PREP4BLUE, a new Horizon Europe project whose name stands for ‘Preparing the Research & Innovation Core for Mission Ocean, Seas & Waters’. In fact, PREP4BLUE will set the foundations for co-creating and co-implementing the research and innovation required to enable the ‘EU Mission: Restore Our Ocean and Waters’, and the IOLN will contribute to the project’s work focused on enabling stakeholders to empower citizen and community-led action in support of the Mission, through deepening and widening citizen engagement by leveraging participatory innovations.

The work of the IOLN can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

This guest blog on the Irish Ocean Literacy Network was written by Maria Vittoria, The Secretariat of the Irish Ocean Literacy Network at the Galway Atlantaquaria.

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We also welcome you to join us in Cork on 8th June, where we are hosting our inaugural World Ocean Day conference. We are bringing ocean advocates, government, industry and key stakeholders together to map out the next steps for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Irish waters.

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