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REF NO.: 94

SUBJECT: Marine Institute to continue Ocean Net youth conferences
DATE: Dec. 18, 2009

The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland is pleased to announce it will continue the very successful Youth and Oceans Conferences which have been organized by Ocean Net for the past 11 years.
The Youth and Oceans Conferences have celebrated the role of youth in marine environmental activity in Newfoundland and Labrador for the past 11 years. Junior high and high school students and teachers attend the conferences each year, taking part in day-long series of thought-provoking presentations and interactive discussions with a focus on marine environmental issues representing leadership and career opportunities for youth.
 “The Marine Institute is proud to carry on Ocean Net legacy projects such as the Youth and Ocean Conferences,” said Keith Mercer, chair, Advanced Diploma in Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management program, School of Fisheries, Marine Institute. “MI aims to build upon the great work completed by Ocean Net and we look forward to furthering its mandate to instill an ocean conservation ethic.”
The Youth and Ocean Conferences have a tradition of engaging youth in direct discussions on environmental issues. Students interact with experts in the fields of fisheries and marine conservation, ecology of marine birds and marine transportation.
Four Youth and Ocean Conferences are planned for 2010, with the first one taking place at the Marine Institute on Feb.12. This conference will focus on oceans sustainability – what it means to us, our role in it and our opportunities to take action. More than 150 students and teachers are expected to attend.
Conferences will also be held in Corner Brook, Labrador and on the Burin Peninsula later in the year. All four events are coordinated by Justin Dearing, former provincial director with Ocean Net and current conference coordinator with MI.
Funding for the conferences is provided by the Provincial Government’s Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and through financial support previously secured by Ocean Net.
“Ocean Net took a lot of pride in providing the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador with these conferences and we are happy to see the Marine Institute is ensuring these events continue to take place,” said Robert O’Brien, founder and volunteer chair, Ocean Net. “The Youth and Ocean Conferences play a valuable role in the development of youth who wish to further their studies of oceans and marine issues. I look forward to following the progress of these conferences for years to come.”
Ocean Net was founded in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997. It was a grassroots, non-government organization mandated to instill an ocean conservation ethic and work with community volunteers to take action in support of a sustainable marine environment. Through the development of education-by-action programs and initiatives, Ocean Net and its network of volunteers have been successful in making positive changes in the areas of marine conservation, waste management, youth education, youth empowerment and climate change mitigation.
Ocean Net has a legacy of environmental leadership in the province and has won many provincial and national awards. In 2004, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador formally proclaimed Ocean Net Day in the province to be the third Friday of September annually in celebration of Ocean Net’s history of proactive and positive environmental education and action.
When Mr. O’Brien indicated that he was retiring from Ocean Net to focus on other business and environmental interests, the Marine Institute agreed to take over some of the organization’s projects. MI will also continue Ocean Net’s core environmental program – the cleanup of community beaches, shorelines and underwater areas throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Since its inception, Ocean Net has worked with more than 32,000 community volunteers and has spearheaded 1,600 cleanups, some of which were between 18 and 25 kilometres long and involved the coordinated support of up to 16 communities,” said Glenn Blackwood, executive director, MI. “The Marine Institute plans to reach out to these volunteers in the future to ensure these projects continue to have such a positive impact on our shorelines, beaches and underwater areas.”
To learn more about the Youth and Oceans Conferences, visit www.mi.mun.ca/mioceannet.

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