Britain’s Ocean City is championing the United Nations’ World Ocean Day (Thursday 8 June) through an ongoing raft of globally significant initiatives celebrating its unique connection to the sea.
Famed for its maritime heritage spanning centuries, Plymouth is today at the heart of 21st century work to protect, preserve and promote the precious resources of the sea.
Plymouth’s strategic position, as the major port city for South West England, overlooking Plymouth Sound – one of the most continually studied marine areas on Earth – is key to its success in the past, present and future and makes it the perfect location to attract scientists, residents and visitors to its innovative, world-leading businesses and cultural hubs.
The city is recognised internationally for marine science excellence through Marine Research Plymouth (MRP) – a partnership of the Marine Biological Association, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and the University of Plymouth. And this city by the sea is home to innovation, including the National Centre for Coastal Autonomy (launched by MRP in 2022) which is located alongside the UK’s premier test-bed facility for developing products for the marine sector, Smart Sound Plymouth.
Additionally, the Maritime UK South West partnership – an alliance of public, business and research organisations – brings together the breadth of the ocean economy, creating an ocean technology cluster that has become a global leader in its field.
Thursday 8 June is the officially designated day to champion the world’s oceans and unite the globe in protecting and restoring all of our shared seas, with the focus on aiming to protect at least 30% of our blue planet by 2030.
And, with its unrivalled marine and maritime credentials, history and expertise, together with a future equally rich in business opportunities and innovation, Britain’s Ocean City is the perfect location to celebrate World Oceans Day.
The Ocean Conservation Trust is launching its I Can See The Sea And The Sea Sees Me campaign, encouraging people to engage with the sea and share their images of this special stretch of water around Plymouth.
People can take a photo from where they can see the sea, then share the image, tagging the location and using the hashtag #ISeeTheSea23
Those who don’t live by the sea can share a photo of their favourite ocean memory or a picture of an ocean scene. Because the campaign isn’t just about seeing the sea, it’s about recognising that the sea sees you too, contributors will be asked to include details on how the image makes them feel and how those feelings help them connect with the ocean. They will also be encouraged to take part in the Think Ocean Challenge.
The Trust is also a founding partner of World Ocean Day for Schools, a free, digital resource tool for educators and parents. This year the trust will be hosting a surf-themed fitness class from its base at The National Marine Aquarium. ‘Surf Fit’ will be filmed and shared to the platform for schools and groups across the UK to engage with.
Other World Oceans Day events taking place at The National Marine Aquarium in June include special workshops, World Oceans Day badge making, yoga sessions, ocean conservation events, a competition as well as various snorkelling and boat trips. More information will be available on their website.
Nicola Bridge, Head of Ocean Advocacy and Engagement at the Trust says: “We’re all connected to the ocean – even in the city – and Plymouth has many places to see the ocean from. We’re looking for people to share different ways in which we can connect with the ocean every day. Seeing their views of the sea on World Ocean Day will be amazing but we’re also keen to encourage people to take the Think Ocean Challenge, a fun quiz to identify your #thinkoceanpersonality.”
The Marine Biological Association’s (MBA) new Marine Microbiome Centre of Excellence. Launching this month (June), this world-class research centre will focus on the vast and diverse microscopic world of the ocean to help understand ocean health and the impacts of climate change.
MBA Chief Executive, Professor Willie Wilson, says: “Aligned to the new Centre, we have launched a major recruitment drive that will bring some of the top jobs in Marine Biology to Plymouth.”
From the seashore to the seafloor, from the microbiome to the megafauna; and from Plymouth Sound to the Pacific, the Marine Biological Association is on a voyage to discover more about our ocean and all aspects of sea life.
Professor Willie Wilson added: “This is a turning point for the MBA and Plymouth, we have the potential to play a much greater role in society than we currently do and these exciting new roles will help achieve greater scale of services for the city”.
Through its world-leading Data Team, the MBA is the UK marine node for the global iNaturalist network (https://uk.inaturalist.org/), an innovative online community and recording app connecting millions of scientists and naturalists worldwide to identify, record and share observations of the world around us.
Dan Lear, Head of Data, Information and Technology at the MBA said: “These data contribute to national and worldwide assessments of marine biodiversity, so by recording marine life locally people can make a difference to policy decisions at the highest level.”
Plymouth and South Devon Freeport is already being recognised as a leader in innovation and its Innovation Hotbed will build on the area’s state-of-the-art marine assets and facilities to become a centre of excellence for the testing, development and manufacturing of the latest marine technologies.
Richard May, CEO, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport, says: “Plymouth with its natural and physical assets provides exactly the right conditions for prototype testing, ocean trials and enabling offshore renewable support. State-of-the-art innovation assets and facilities within Plymouth including Smart Sound Plymouth, the University of Plymouth’s COAST Laboratory and Cyber-SHIP Lab, and the National Centre for Coastal Autonomy make Plymouth a global centre of excellence for the developing, testing, and manufacturing of the latest marine technology.
“The Plymouth and South Devon Freeport creates a unique opportunity to catalyse deeper innovation for the sector by supporting, developing and accelerating these assets, facilities and opportunities with increased investment, trade and skills.
“The Freeport and its partners have already been recognised by government for leading innovation in key sub-sector specialisms in Marine Autonomy, Connected Ocean and Clean Propulsion solutions. They have provided funding to set up the Maritime Regulatory Innovation Framework (MRIF) in partnership with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to create a national testing sandbox for forming new regulations for Marine Autonomy and Clean Propulsion systems in Plymouth waters. This furthers our partnership with other nations and in some ways the opportunity to lead the creation of standards and appropriate international regulations in these growth markets for the blue/green economy.”
Plymouth Sound’s National Marine Park (NMP) the UK’s first and only marine park, is helping to develop new green marine employment opportunities, encouraging people to protect the ocean and piloting projects to tackle challenges such as climate change.
Elaine Hayes, interim CEO of the NMP says: “Our oceans are the lungs of the planet and, as such, are vitally important. At the National Marine Park we’re dedicated to helping our own swathe of the ocean and everyone can do something to contribute to the protection of our oceans. Our amazing Sound is a fabulous place to enjoy the sea and we’re inviting people to come and walk alongside the ocean, paddle, swim or just soak in its majesty.”
The University of Plymouth is one of the leading voices in clean maritime research and innovation. Underpinned by cutting-edge facilities such as the COAST, Maritime Simulation and Cyber-SHIP Labs, it excels in transdisciplinary applied research addressing clean maritime challenges in domains, such as: offshore renewable energy; engineering; marine autonomy; green shipping and maritime cyber security.
The University is also a founding partner of the National Centre for Coastal Autonomy, the UK’s first autonomous fully integrated coastal observing and monitoring network. It uses the latest autonomous technologies to drive towards a net zero oceanographic capability, delivering world-leading and cutting-edge science. The hi-res data it produces will support policymakers and other organisations to enable good stewardship and an enhanced understanding of the coastal environment.
It also has an impressive track record of using its expertise and facilities to benefit businesses in Plymouth and the wider South West. Each year that involves talking to over 3,500 businesses, activities worth £433m to the city in terms of output generated.
Kevin Forshaw, the University of Plymouth’s Director of Industrial and Strategic Partnerships, says: “Organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have predicted a doubling in growth in the ocean economy by 2030.
“That means there is a massive opportunity here in the South West, a region that relies on – but also stands to benefit most economically from – the sector.”
Kevin, who also chairs the Maritime UK South West partnership adds: “The University of Plymouth has been instrumental in bringing together industry, research and local government to drive clustering initiatives to drive growth in marine technology. This provides societal application for our research to boost the UK’s drive for net zero, and dramatically reduce the nation’s collective environmental impact on land and at sea.”
In addition to the offer of world-class education, business links and research opportunities, choosing the University of Plymouth is a lifestyle choice for many students who come to Britain’s Ocean City. The next undergraduate Open Day is on Wednesday 21 June: www.plymouth.ac.uk/study/open-days
For more information on World Ocean Day, visit https://worldoceanday.org/