Origin Story

George P. Livanos, who was born in New Orleans but raised in Greece, founded HELMEPA (Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association) in 1983, recognizing the importance of the maritime industry to mitigate its impacts on the marine environment, and to educate seafarers and students to SAVE OUR SEAS. The MEPA Movement expanded to Cyprus, Turkey, Uruguay, and Australia before being considered in North America.

In October of 2006, Clay Maitland and Carleen Lyden Walker were attending a conference in Athens, when they met the Secretary General of HELMEPA. Both were familiar with the mission of HELMEPA—in fact, George Livanos had invited Clay to participate in a meeting about its formation—and agreed that the timing was right for a MEPA in North America.

NAMEPA was born in October 2007 in New York under the auspices of the United States Coast Guard, the International Maritime Organization, and INTERMEPA. With a foundation of 33 members signing the “Declaration of Voluntary Commitment to SAVE OUR SEAS, NAMEPA now numbers over 200 companies, associations, mariners and students in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean who have embraced the work of the organization. NAMEPA has developed partnerships and strategic alliances with like-minded groups and is the bridge between commerce and conservation.

Setting Sail

Today, 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. It also works to communicate the value proposition of the maritime industry to the public, who often don’t realize how their lives are intertwined with “the engine of global trade”.

NAMEPA is born

The organization was launched on October 25th during the World Maritime Day Observance in New York City. The day started with an ecumenical service at St. James Church, presided over by the Episcopal Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Kathryn Jefferts Schiori. This was followed by a seminar and launch dinner at the Union Club, which was attended by several dignitaries including the IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos, USCG Vice Commandant Vivien Crea, RADM Brian Salerno, RADM James Watson, RADM Mary Landry, Deputy Maritime Administrator Julie Nelson, INTERMEPA and HELMEPA Chairman Nicky Pappadakis, and Director General Dimitris Mitropoulos. The organization was founded with 33 members.

Getting Our Sea Legs!

Utilizing a strategy of building membership through events, the first year of operation began with a chalk board response drill “What if the Cosco Busan happened in New York Harbor”, followed by National Maritime Day in Washington DC and a World Maritime Day Observance in New York featuring Hapag Lloyd CEO Adolf Adrion and USCG Commandant Thad Allen. This was also the first year of the NAMEPA Awards, honoring the MEPA founder George P. Livanos. That year also saw NAMEPA attendance at the INTERMEPA Annual General Meeting, the distribution of 12,000 American Club environmental crimes posters through the NAMMA (North American Maritime Ministry Association) network, a NAMEPA marine debris video, partnership with Sea Research Foundation’s Immersion Learning program, adoption of formal by-laws, and the launch of the NAMEPA News.

Celebrating Seafarers!

NAMEPA hosted a seminar on environmental crimes in New York and collaborated with the American Salvage Association on WORP (Wreck Oil Removal Program). They also helped produce a Harbor of Safe Refuge spill response exercise in Houston, conducted beach cleanups in collaboration with Ocean Conservancy and launched a Marine Debris/Litter Poster showing the decomposition rates of garbage in the ocean. In addition, NAMEPA held an Awards Dinner to honor the USCG for their work and launched a student art drawing contest, along with the JASON Project and Immersion Learning. The USCG also tapped NAMEPA to support the World Maritime Day Parallel Event in New York, which brought over 300 delegates worldwide.

Hitting Our Stride!

NAMEPA achieved several significant milestones. They held the first EIS conference in San Francisco and hosted two more throughout the year. Additionally, they became an exhibitor at the Connecticut Maritime Association annual Shipping Conference. They were also awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for their MARPOL handbook. NAMEPA launched its Marine Debris bag and also began work in Alaska. They honored APL with an award and launched the SUNY NAMEPA student chapter. Finally, in partnership with INTERTANKO, OCIMF, and ITOPF, they held the World Maritime Day Observance in Vancouver.

Making An Impact!

NAMEPA organized several events and activities throughout the year. These included EIS conferences held in Long Beach (on board the Queen Mary), Seattle, Anchorage, and New York. Additionally, there was a Responder Immunity seminar organized in New York, and the 1st AMVER dinner coupled with National Maritime Day in Washington DC. During the year, NAMEPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the USCG (United States Coast Guard), supported the Coast Guard with an International Observer Program during a Cross Border spill response drill on Whidbey Island in Washington State, and helped produce the Wrecks of the World Conference in Maryland. NAMEPA held its World Maritime Day Observance in Tampa, Florida with the USCG, and awarded the NAMEPA MEP Award to Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Educating Students!

In partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NAMEPA played an instrumental role in developing and producing the Educators Guide to Marine Debris. Additionally, NAMEPA organized a seminar in New Orleans to discuss the Deepwater Horizon incident and also held the first NAMEPA seminar in Posidonia. Moreover, NAMEPA produced several EIS events in San Francisco, New York, and Houston, and sponsored an oil spill response effort in Houston. Lastly, NAMEPA organized the World Maritime Day Observance in Banff, Alberta, which focused on the lessons learned from the Titanic tragedy on its 100th anniversary and was well-received by all attendees.

All About Science!

In the past year, NAMEPA has achieved a lot of milestones. They developed and launched the Educators Guide to the Marine Environment, which is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning about the marine environment. Additionally, NAMEPA established Guiding Principles for the organization, which help ensure that NAMEPA is always working towards its goals. They also held a Board retreat to develop a strategic plan and hosted several EIM conferences in different cities. The organization also began a partnership with the American Salvage Association on a Science Fair. Lastly, the NAMEPA Awards expanded to include other sectors, and top honors were given to Teekay, ITOPF, and National Geographic.

NAMEPA Hosts The World!

NAMEPA reached out to the offshore sector, holding an EIM in Houston on “The Winds of Change”. Additional programs included our ongoing presence at the CMA Conference, our annual National Maritime Day program on Safety at Sea in Washington DC followed by the AMVER Awards, another successful seminar at the Posidonia Conference and Exhibition Center, a Maritime Readiness seminar in Anchorage, and our annual conference (Evolution or Revolution in Shipping) followed by our NAMEPA Award winners (Cruise Line Industry Association, Wildlife Conservation Society, Titan Salvage (for the Costa Concordia salvage), BSEE and Joe Cox for his lifetime of achievements in maritime. We held the World Maritime Day Observance in Cozumel.

Maritime Learning Matters!

In its effort to include other sectors of the marine transportation chain, NAMEPA held a Port Security conference in Tampa, followed by EIM efforts in Houston, Norfolk Washington DC, Anchorage, and New York. The World Maritime Day Observance was held at MITAGS and gathered maritime educators and industry from around the globe. NAMEPA also partnered with the University of Houston on research they were conducting on the maritime industry. NAMEPA Awards went to FedNav, MARAD, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Jefferies, Maritime Solutions, ORCA and the World Shipping Council’s Chris Koch.


The Houston conference was hosted by SeaRiver Maritime on behalf of NAMEPA at ExxonMobil global headquarters. A Posidonia seminar was co-presented by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Propeller Club of Piraeus in Athens. Joe Hughes became the Chairman of NAMEPA. A student chapter was formed in Panama. The development of a Learner’s Guide to the Marine Industry began. A dialogue was initiated with the Wildlife Conservation Society on shipping and whales. A speech was delivered at the Central Park Zoo.

10 Years to Save Our Ocean!

Kicking off with Roger Williams University publishing NAMEPA’s paper on marine debris and an inaugural plastics campaign, NAMEPA celebrated 10 years! NAMEPA has begun developing a CSR program and toolkit for shipping as well as developing a computer based training (CBT) for shipboard and shoreside staff on marine environment awareness with a focus on MARPOL in the Caribbean. The formation of BERMEPA is underway and the annual K-12 Art Contest winners’ work is now on display at IMO headquarters in London. Lastly, International Seaways becomes NAMEPA’s 200th member.

All Ahead Full!
Expanding in the Caribbean!
A Whole New World!
Every Action Counts!
Year of Awareness
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