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MARPOL, Workforce Development, & Education

NAMEPA Education & Outreach 2023 Objectives: 

  • Introduce students/educators (K-6) to maritime industry and importance of marine environment.
  • Engage with students/educators (6-12) building awareness of the maritime industry and marine environmental awareness.
  • Deliver workforce development programs (9-12/beyond) focused on marine industry and marine sciences.

College + Industry: MARPOL Webinar Series

K-2: The Little Bulker and activity books

K-12: Maritime Adventures Board Game and Adopt A Ship, Science Fair and Educator Guides

9-12: Career Development Presentations

High School + College: Internship opportunities


The maritime industry plays a vital role in the global economy. Acting as the driving force for trade and transportation, the shipping industry is responsible for roughly 90% of all global trade. The industry is facing a number of challenges, including the need for skilled workers that are interested in a career and marine environmental awareness. To support these efforts, the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) has developed educational resources to educate and activate students, seafarers, educators, communities and the public on the marine environment awareness and the sustainability of the maritime industry!

NAMEPA’s education and outreach objectives for 2023 include collaborating with partners throughout North America to deploy our programs to students K-12 and beyond introducing the importance of marine environmental protection and awareness!  We will use the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) theme: Celebrating 50 years of Protecting the Marine Environment through MARPOL! as a foundation.

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is an international treaty that aims to minimize pollution from ships and protect the marine environment. Compliance with MARPOL regulations is essential for the shipping industry to operate sustainably and responsibly. As such, workforce development is crucial in addressing these challenges and ensuring the long-term success of the maritime industry and protection of the marine environment.

One of the key elements of MARPOL compliance is education and training. Shipowners and operators, as well as crew members and shoreside personnel, must be familiar with the regulations and understand their responsibilities. This includes knowledge of the different types of pollution, such as oil, chemicals, and garbage, and the proper procedures for prevention and response. In addition to the knowledge of regulations, education and training also includes understanding the environmental impact of shipping activities. For example, understanding the impact of exhaust emissions on air quality or the impact the increase of carbon in the atmosphere has on the marine environment. This knowledge can help shipowners and operators make informed decisions about how to operate their vessels more sustainably. Furthermore, education and training programs also help increase environmental awareness and understanding of MARPOL regulations by the public. This can help build support for regulations and encourage compliance throughout the shipping industry. To support these efforts, NAMEPA has launched a MARPOL Webinar Series led by corporate members and partners to increase awareness about MARPOL including compliance and marine environmental awareness while also increasing MARPOL compliance among maritime industry personnel.

With rapidly changing technology, ships and ports are becoming more automated and digitalized. This causes an increased need for workers with the skills and knowledge to operate and maintain these systems. NAMEPA believes this pressing challenge needs to address the skills gap and ensure that the industry has the talent it needs to succeed in the long term. 

To prepare the next generation we believe it is vitally important that topics are introduced to students at a young age in order to build an understanding of the possibilities and develop interest in the marine industry and marine sciences. Early exposure allows students to discover interests and passions, while building knowledge in specific areas to close the skills gap.

NAMEPA has a plethora of marine science resources for the public and students of all ages. In addition to these resources, NAMEPA has K-12 educational materials which have been developed to increase student engagement in the maritime industry while also learning geography, culture, and environmental conservation.

The NAMEPA Annual Conference celebrating 15 years introduced, “The Little Bulker” a book that educates children about the maritime industry. The book chronicles the construction of a dry bulk carrier in Japan, accompanied by details on what the ship carriers, its components, size and launching. Further it is an “eco” ship, which is a critical feature in the effort to reduce the impact on the environment. Readers can track the voyages of the ship, Athena, to explore geography, marine operations, and even career opportunities.

In addition to “The Little Bulker”, NAMEPA launched the Maritime Adventures Board Game. Now, K-12 students can explore the maritime industry and marine environment through an interactive, hands-on approach through gamification. Players can explore challenges and proactive approaches to protect the marine environment on a global scale. The first edition of the board game has been graciously sponsored by new NAMEPA corporate member, The Pasha Group.

K-12 students can also explore the maritime industry through the Adopt A Ship program. Developed in 2006, the Adopt A Ship program was initiated by the Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC) and the Cyprus Maritime Environmental Protection Association (CYMEPA) to bring together students and seafarers onboard ships. Senior officers onboard the vessel exchange weekly emails with classrooms through the teacher for 6-8 weeks with students tracking the ship’s journey by using a world map. Students learn about the important role seafarers play as essential workers while also learning about geography, culture, environmental conservation, marine operations, communication skills and career opportunities.

For students in grades 9-12, NAMEPA has several programs including The Maritime Industry Learning Guide! This guide provides interactive lessons to educate students on the history and the importance of the marine industry, and ways to find a career in this dynamic field. NAMEPA offers webinars on workforce development with panel discussions by industry professionals to inform about experience, job requirements, duties and skills while encouraging students to explore their interests and career pathways onshore and offshore.

For secondary and post-secondary students looking to gain experience and build their resumes, NAMEPA offers a competitive internship program. Interns work alongside team members by engaging with industry experts, exploring global trade, and researching best maritime practices.

In sum, education and training are essential components in developing an understanding of marine environment protection and compliance which will contribute towards growing the incoming workforce as they develop interest in the opportunities available to them in the shipping industry. This knowledge will help ensure shipowners and operators, can make informed decisions about how to operate their vessels sustainably while seafarers are aware of their responsibility to protect the marine environment. Investing in workforce development at every age is relevant to all in maritime to continuously improve and ensure sustainability of the industry.

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