Over the next few months, we will be featuring organisations that are working on ocean issues and their linkages to the Commonwealth Blue Charter.
If you’re interested in being featured on this ‘spotlight’ section of our website, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This month, the spotlight is on The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST)
Tell us the vision of your organisation.
Our vision is a world where marine resources and activities are sustained, managed and developed for the benefit of humanity.
How could your organisation’s work support the Commonwealth Blue Charter’s Action Groups?
Founded in 1889, and awarded a Royal Charter in 1933, we are an international membership body and learned society that brings marine engineers, scientists and technologists together. With over 22,000 members spanning 128 countries, we work to promote the scientific development of marine disciplines, providing opportunities for the exchange of ideas and upholding the status, standards and expertise of marine professionals worldwide.
We are uniquely positioned to support the Blue Charter Action Groups through our access to relevant networks and expertise and our provision of knowledge-sharing and publishing opportunities, education and training, capacity building and professional development. For example, we are unique in offering universally recognized professional qualifications for marine engineers, marine scientists and marine technologists – professionals who will be key to delivering the Commonwealth Blue Charter. To help them work towards these qualifications, we can offer membership and partnership opportunities to individuals, groups and even organisations. Action Groups wanting to find out more about how we can specifically support their focus areas should get in touch with the Blue Charter Secretariat.
What has been your organisation’s key achievement over the past 12 months?
We have introduced two additional, specialist professional qualifications for marine scientists focusing in oceanography and hydrography. Marine scientists can use these universal certifications to demonstrate their expertise, competence and ethical values. In a world where scientists in certain fields – such as climate science – often face doubt from the public, professional assurance in the form of this type of certification helps to build trust and to create a gold standard internationally.
Which Commonwealth countries do you currently work in or would like to be involved in?
We are headquartered in both London, UK (in Westminster, close to Commonwealth Secretariat) and in Singapore, but we carry out much of our activity virtually, meaning members are supported and engaged regardless of location. We have members in 33 Commonwealth countries and local branches of the IMarEST in 9 of these (Australia, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and United Kingdom). As a truly international organisation, we are keen to partner with any country or project which supports our vision to ensure sustainability of marine resources. We would be interested in establishing local branches in any other Commonwealth countries that wish to increase knowledge-sharing and professional development capabilities in their marine sectors.
Public awareness of the ocean and ocean issues has undoubtedly improved, but do you see gaps or areas where better ocean literacy is still required? Why?
Whilst a young and inspiring generation, including the likes of Greta Thunberg, leads the way in advocating for better protection of the oceans and action on climate change, there remains a need to ensure that the current decision makers are also ocean literate so they can take the necessary action required to make a change. The IMarEST works at intergovernmental level to promote the need to recognise sound scientific evidence and to raise awareness of the key issues related to the ocean. However, our job doesn’t end there – even within the ocean professions there exists a need for education on issues related to, in particular, environmental protection and the need to work sustainably and ethically, and we work tirelessly to embed these principals throughout the profession. We also work with our partners to improve ocean literacy for the next generation – Oceans are now part of the UK’s national curriculum, but this needs to be adopted everywhere, especially as nations embark on the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).
If you could encounter one ocean creature, what would it be and why?
Given that over 1 billion people in the world are dependent on fish as their primary food source, we’d love to see some healthy stocks of endangered species such as Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. This is a remarkable fish which averages 2m in length but can grow to over 4m, weigh over 600kg and live for 40 years! Seeing more of these fish in the oceans would hopefully indicate that initiatives to combat illegal and unreported fishing and sustainably managed fisheries are working.
What ocean news story from the last 12 months brought you great joy/sadness?
The recent release of the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, paints a stark and saddening picture of the state of the ocean. Unless rapid action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the future looks bleak. In the absence of concerted action, the changes taking place have enormous consequences for the ocean, and by extension, the Earth as a whole. From the loss of coral reefs and the rise of sea levels to ocean deoxygenation, the ocean is at a tipping point. The report is a clear call for us to act on climate change before it is too late for the ocean and for all life on earth. However, through initiatives to better understand climate change and oceans, as well as looking at reducing emissions, the IMarEST will continue seeking to engage and support the brightest and best marine professionals in developing solutions.