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Maritime Forum

Winners of the “EU4Ocean in Action” Awards announced!

The EU4Ocean coalition honours the initiatives that best reflect the spirit and principles of the EU4Ocean coalition, and that have mobilised very diverse representatives of the Coalition's various communities.


After more than 2 years of cooperation, the EU4Ocean coalition honours the initiatives that best reflect the spirit and principles of the EU4Ocean coalition, and that have mobilised very diverse representatives of the Coalition's various communities.

On May 20th, Charlina VITCHEVA, Director-General of the Directorate-General “Maritime Affairs and Fisheries” (MARE), awarded 6 winners among the 45 wonderful projects that were submitted last month.

Three main winners were chosen in the categories:

  • Navy Blue (1st prize),
  • Classic Blue (2nd prize)
  • Sky Blue (3rd prize)

Three “Special mention” awards were also given for:

  • Best professional organisation initiative,
  • Best youth initiative,
  • Best education & school initiative.

The winners of the awards were selected by a Jury chaired by the European Commission's Directorate General MARE, including the chairs of the EU4Ocean Coalition, municipalities and IOC UNESCO, based on several selection criteria and taking into account the results of the public (online) voting.

Selected projects have supported social learning and critical thinking, had a strong innovative character, a collective dimension, a focus on the EU, and potential for replication.

The trophy was handmade by the young Spanish artist Annick Galimont.

Check out the winners below!

1st prize | Navy Blue

BlueGeneration, Sea Teach Spain, Silja Teege

The main objective of the BlueGeneration Project is to inspire and engage youth between 15 and 30 years old to pursue a sustainable career in one of the Blue Economy growth sectors.

The BlueGeneration project has developed a programme that trains youth workers to become knowledgeable promoters and mentors of opportunities in the Blue Economy.

These mentors are meant to present Blue Career options in high schools, adult education centres, NGOs, unemployment services and local associations and to guide the interested youth to suitable employment and training in the Blue Economy through personal mentoring.

The BlueGeneration project has produced a Blue Economy MOOC, a Blue Career Guide and a Blue Career Job Platform which all support the aim of bringing youths into the Blue Economy. The project is currently producing and adding Virtual Reality videos of all Blue Economy sub-sectors and live/recorded webinars to its activities.

In the summer of 2022, the BlueGeneration project will publish its BluePrint Guide for other organisations to be inspired by its activities and it will set up a Federation that will take over ownership of all project outputs and invite others to join.

The BlueGeneration Project has reached over 40.000 youths through its promotional visits, websites and social media campaign. BlueGeneration has involved over 17.000 youths, over 350 educational institutions and more than 500 Blue Economy companies. So far, 2.572 youths have found jobs, training and/or internships in the Blue Economy.

2nd prize | Classic Blue

MUMA Museo del Mare Milazzo, MuMa Museo del Mare Milazzo ONLUS, Italy, Carmelo Isgrò

MuMa Milazzo Sea Museum, located in the Castle of Milazzo, invites its visitors on a spiritual journey to rediscover and reignite the harmony between man and the sea through science and art. MuMa had its origin in the moving and tragic story of a sperm whale, renamed "Siso", that died in the waters of the Aeolian Islands in the summer of 2017 due to an illegal fishing net; the biologist Carmelo Isgrò recovered the bones and reconstructed the skeleton, creating a museum around the cetacean.

Upon entering, visitors find themselves in the central hall of the museum, once the first cathedral of Milazzo. The skeleton hangs where the altar once stood, with the illegal fishing net still on its tail and plastic that it had ingested suspended from its vertebrae. Three adjacent rooms lead visitors on a journey of inner growth and, like Dante, the first reality that has to be faced is Hell, then Purgatory and finally Heaven. MuMa is not a classic museum of the sea but a place where science and art unite and blend together.

The project has reached 1000 students per year in educational activities, while the Castle of Milazzo and MuMa is visited by approximately 20000 visitors per year.

3rd prize | Sky Blue

I live by the sea, Izabela Kotynska-Zielinska, Today We Have, Poland

We all live by the sea. No matter how far from the sea you live - next to the beach or far away in the mountains - you still have a great impact on it. And it is up to you whether you create a positive relationship with the sea or have an adverse impact on it. We believe that educating people about the importance and the beauty of marine environments is the key to creating positive attitudes towards the sea.

The idea behind this project involves a worldwide contest for young people up to the age of 21. In the Contest we expect the participants to present a story of “their sea” through visual art. There are two categories: Photo and Film.

Along with a short text which describes the story, participants, , submit photos or short films. When it comes to the short films, we accept any form of artistic expression: from a documentary to a feature film or theatre play, including anything from pantomime to dance or song.

The project has reached 935 pupils - 271 young people, 450 families, 500 teachers and educators, and more than 40,000 visitors.

Best organisation

Abecedarium: The Ocean in sign language, TBA21–Academy, Austria, Valeria Bottalico

"Abecedarium" is a long-term educational and participatory project, conceived and curated by the accessibility programme specialist Valeria Bottalico in collaboration with ENS-Ente Nazionale Sordi ONLUS (Italian Deaf Agency) and CNR ISMAR, Institute of Marine Sciences.

The goal of the project is to create a glossary in sign language related to the marine world and the climate emergency - starting from the Italian sign language and eventually encompassing other countries´ sign languages and international signs.

Using a participatory and co-creation approach, "Abcedarium" aims to be a long-term process of knowledge production and to work alongside the deaf community for the enhancement and recognition of sign language, forming a physical, social, linguistic, political and aesthetic connection with the ocean.

Best Youth

Refill Cyprus, Let's make Cyprus Green, Cyprus, Eleni Kazelas

We are living in an age where, every minute, one million plastic bottles are used all around the globe – and the number is only rising. Even so, there are barely any “refill and reuse” options available in Cyprus at present.

That´s why, as the problem of plastic pollution needs to be tackled at the source - by reducing consumption - we've launched Refill Cyprus – a behaviour change campaign created to help people reduce plastic pollution by making it easier to reuse and refill their bottles with everyday essentials – from free filtered drinking water to body care and cleaning products.

This exciting new project began with the installation of our very first Water Refill Station in Cyprus, which has been placed on the Yermasoyia seafront.

Just 5 months after installing, approximately 6,000 plastic bottles have been saved just by this one refill station, and we are planning to expand the project across the entire island. The second phase of the Refill Cyprus campaign is to revolutionise the way we shop for everyday essentials such as cleaning and body care products.

Best schools

Escola Azul (Blue School), Portuguese Ministry of the Economy and Maritime Affairs, Portugal, Raquel Costa

Escola Azul is an educational programme on Ocean Literacy in Portugal. The main goal is to inspire schools in bringing forth ocean-literate generations that are able to convert ocean knowledge into emotional bonding, critical thinking, decision-making and effective action towards solving the most pressing ocean-related issues of our time.

More than a programme, Escola Azul has become an Ocean Literacy community. We gather students, teachers, families, municipalities, and partner entities coming from different sectors: research, industry, NGOs, museums, etc. We include students from coastal regions who have a clear connection with the sea, as well as students from the inland who learn about the ocean being an essential part for human life, despite the physical distance.

Escola Azul can also be thought of as a citizenship programme, as the respect for the ocean and what it provides is not only envisioned as an end but also as a means to achieving significant values that define responsible and active citizens.

Today, Escola Azul reaches 313 schools, close to 55 000 students and 110 partners.

Yesterday, May 19, BlueGeneration and Escola Azul signed a declaration to bring together all main players who will co-build a charter for blue education in Europe - a charter that will support our EU Network of Blue Schools.