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NAMEPA Hosts Inaugural Regional Gathering in Houston Addressing Public Perception, Marine Environment Protection, and Workforce Development in the Maritime Industry

HOUSTON, TX – February 28 — The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable practices and awareness of the maritime industry, hosted its inaugural regional effort in the dynamic port city of Houston. This gathering proved to be a pivotal event, where stakeholders, leaders, and educators came together to collaboratively identify key insights and initiatives aimed at shaping the future of the maritime industry in the region. The gathering, hosted at the West Gulf Maritime Association, focused on understanding, and enhancing public perception, promoting marine environment protection, and fostering workforce development.

As Leslie Bowlin, Executive Director of the Houston Maritime Center and Museum, emphasized: “The common denominator is connecting the community to the industry. Whatever we can do to make those connections will benefit us all now and in the future.” The collaborative efforts spurred by NAMEPA’s regional gathering aim to create lasting positive impacts on the maritime industry and the communities it serves.

Robert Hawn of WGMA participating in NAMEPA Region Gathering

Public Perception of the Value Proposition of the Maritime Industry 

In examining the public’s view of the maritime industry, the industry has the potential for a blank slate due to a lack of awareness, abundant job opportunities, and a considerable economic impact. However, negative perceptions regarding environmental impact, challenges associated with underserved communities, varied education levels, and communication challenges are still present.

Opportunities described included the need to uplift the populations around ports, implement decarbonization initiatives, expand career benefit profiles, and embrace the future. The emphasis was on taking a holistic approach. Initiating change with a focus on building emotional connections is crucial. We must also educate parents to inspire future generations while recognizing potential threats such as wrong decisions impacting GDP, apathy, ignorance, complacency, and what future generations demand which doesn’t fit today’s maritime industry’s practices.

Raising Public Awareness of Marine Environment Protection and Sustainable Practices

The discussions and dialogues centered around promoting public awareness of marine environment protection and sustainable practices identified several strengths, such as the effective use of social media and newsletters to share industry best practices, involving industry gatherings, and partnering with schools. The work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the importance of efficiency protocols were also acknowledged.

The discussions led to a proposed strategic focus on public policy collaboration with elected officials and effective communication of public awareness messages. The action plan includes sharing information and leveraging press releases to create a unified approach.

Fostering Workforce Development

The exploration of workforce development strengths revealed existing partnerships in Houston and an abundance of opportunities across various industries. Attendees identified weaknesses, including variations in fields within the industry and challenges in attracting younger students.

Opportunities for workforce development were recognized in tapping into the broadness of the industry, involving education and independent school districts, and implementing apprenticeship programs in the area. Potential threats included the perceived broadness of the industry, recognizing the value of the industry, and addressing challenges related to technology and recruitment.

“Everything we are doing; we need to be targeting 10- and 11-year-olds. Whatever we transition to, in 20 years, they’ll be the ones running it. The public is the only thing that will bring industry and community together,” says Blue Sky Maritime Coalition President, David Cummins.

Where do we go from here?

This is just the beginning! From these breakdowns, the next step is to work with NAMEPA members, partners and strategic alliances to identify how we can champion efforts and create synergy, long-term. From public awareness campaigns, to supporting the diverse industry pipeline. Beyond fostering local connections, these regional initiatives will unlock access to NAMEPA’s extensive resources. Communities will gain valuable best practices, educational materials, and expert networks, empowering them to tackle local challenges effectively. This deeper engagement allows NAMEPA to tailor programs and campaigns to address the specific priorities of each community.

The focus on regional needs goes beyond local action. By understanding and addressing these diverse challenges, NAMEPA aims to amplify public awareness of the maritime industry’s role, inspire communities to actively champion the protection of our marine ecosystems, and cultivate a skilled and environmentally aware maritime workforce.

To learn more about NAMEPA Regions initiative, visit


Thank you to NAMEPA Houston Regions Stakeholders:

  • ACTion Group
  • Blue Sky Maritime Coalition
  • Greater Houston Port Bureau
  • Houston Maritime Center and Museum
  • Houston Pilots
  • International Registries, Inc.
  • Learnmarine
  • Port Houston
  • San Jacinto Community College
  • International Registries, Inc.
  • West Gulf Maritime Association

Contact: Molly Dushay (, Education & Outreach Director, Regions Director, North American Marine Environment Protection Association

About North American Marine Environment Protection Association

The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) is a marine industry-led organization of environmental stewards preserving the marine environment by promoting sustainable marine industry best practices and educating seafarers, students and the public about the need and strategies for protecting global ocean, lake and river resources.  For more information visit

Additional Images:

Image: Stakeholders from NAMEPA DNV, Learnmarine, International Registries Inc., WGMA, and San Jacinto College collaborate on workforce development opportunities in Houston.

Image: Devan Short of Port Houston sharing the strengths and opportunities Houston has in promoting marine environment protection awareness and maritime best practices.

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