European Boating Industry (EBI) is the voice of the recreational boating industry at EU level. The industry includes boat builders, engine and equipment manufacturers, marinas, charter and service providers. As the success of the boating industry depends on a respectful use of the sea and on a healthy marine environment, EBI is fully committed to ocean literacy. Having ocean-literate citizens who understand the marine environment is an essential part of the conservation and sustainable use of ocean resources. Boating and water sports are one of the foremost means to discover and learn to appreciate Europe’s great marine environment, coastal regions and inland waterways. 48 million European citizens regularly participate in recreational marine activities, of which 36 million are boaters.
One of the projects EBI is involved with is the Blue Generation project (2018-2022), which aims at encouraging young people, especially those not in education, employment or training, to pursue a sustainable career in the blue economy (with a focus on Spain, Poland, Greece, Portugal and Bulgaria). Bringing young workers into the blue economy is not only an opportunity to increase employment and close skills gaps, but also to enhance ocean literacy and ensure the development of a dynamic and sustainable blue economy. The project provides a career portal advertising jobs, internships and training in the blue economy (sectors include coastal tourism, aquaculture, ocean energy, marine biotechnology, shipbuilding, maritime transport and fisheries). It also offers a set of free learning modules about jobs in the blue economy, as well as a blue careers guide, both of which EBI helped to develop. The project also engages with other activities, such as organising info-days in high schools, adult education centres or local associations to promote blue career opportunities.
In addition, recreational boating enhances ocean literacy through the organisation of boat shows throughout Europe, which bring citizens in contact with the nautical world and hence with the sea. EBI has a close partnership with boot Düsseldorf, the largest boat show in the world, which is organised in Düsseldorf every January and which received 250 000 visitors in 2020. Every year, boot Düsseldorf includes a ‘Love your ocean’ stand in one of its halls, in collaboration with the German Ocean Foundation. This allows local citizens, including school children who visit the show, to improve their ocean literacy by learning interactively about ocean conservation and about ocean research projects, through experiments, interactive information and workshops. This is simply one boat show among many across Europe with many offering similar initiatives.
These are some examples of the commitment of EBI and the recreational boating industry towards enhancing citizens’ awareness and knowledge of the oceans. In its EU-level advocacy activities, EBI will always champion the cause of ocean literacy to widen awareness and ensure that the seas are used in a sustainable and respectful manner.
Photos: Messe Düsseldorf, Constanze Tillmann