The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland will host a Youth and Oceans Conference on Friday, Feb. 12. The conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in Hampton Hall at MI’s Ridge Road campus in St. John’s. Media are invited to send representatives.
The Youth and Oceans Conference will celebrate the role of youth in marine environmental activity in Newfoundland and Labrador. Close to 160 junior high and high school students from the Avalon Peninsula will attend, taking part in a day-long series of thought-provoking presentations and interactive discussions that focus on marine environmental issues representing leadership and career opportunities for youth.
The theme for the conference is Sustainable Oceans: It’s now or never.
“Students will be given the opportunity to learn more about the need for each of us to adopt an ocean conservation ethic,” said Keith Mercer, chair, Advanced Diploma in Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management program, School of Fisheries, Marine Institute. “The Youth and Oceans Conference is designed to play a valuable role in the development of youth who wish to further their studies of oceans and marine issues. Students will have a chance to interact with experts in the fields of fisheries and marine conservation, ecology of marine birds and marine transportation.”
The Youth and Oceans Conference starts with registration at 7:30 a.m. in the Marine Institute lobby. Carey Bonnell, head of MI’s School of Fisheries, will give the host address at 9:15 a.m., followed by the conference opening, performed by Charlene Johnson, Provincial Minister of the Department of Environment and Conservation, at 9:30 a.m.
Shane Mahoney, executive director, Provincial Department of Environment and Conservation, serves as the event’s keynote speaker and will take to the podium at 10:25 a.m. Other speakers taking part in the conference include Dr. Scott M. Grant, research scientist and instructor, Marine Institute; Dr. Bill Montevecchi, research professor, Memorial University; and Robert O’Brien, founder and former chair, Ocean Net.
The Youth and Oceans Conference will also include a youth forum, under the subject Sustainability – What are we waiting for? The youth forum runs from 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and is followed by an awards presentation that will see three prizes handed out, including the Youth Environmental Stewardship Award, the Eco-Champ Award and the Visual/Written Art Challenge. Conference participants will then get a tour of the MI flume tank before taking in closing comments from Justin Dearing, conference co-ordinator, Marine Institute.
“This conference will not only engage youth in a very important topic, it will also give students the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said Mercer. “Through direct participation in discussions on environmental issues, students will have a chance to engage in the issues that matter most to them.”
Support for the Youth and Oceans Conference is provided by the Department of Trade, Innovation and Rural Development; the Gainey Foundation; Stantec; the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Newfoundland Transshipment Ltd.; Brian Grant; Husky Energy; Loblaws; Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment; Multi-Material Stewardship Board (MMSB) and the Eastern School District.
The Marine Institute will hold Youth and Oceans Conferences in Corner Brook, Labrador and on the Burin Peninsula later in the year.