Our third annual Green-Schools Marine Environment Conference began in Galway on Tuesday, January 29th. Taking place over two days in Salthill, the conference is supported by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 21 schools attended the conference which focuses on our marine environment and the threatening effects pollution is having on biodiversity.

In Galway on Tuesday, Green-Schools Manager Cathy Baxter welcomed the attending schools: “We’re excited to be in Galway for one of the highlights of our calendar, and also to launch a new Marine Spatial Planning Competition. Well done to all the participating schools whose creativity and passion is so inspiring, and sincere thanks to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for their support’’.

During a series of activities and talks at the conference, Green-Schools students gained a deeper insight into the value of the Marine Environment. The keynote speaker, documentary film maker and creator of Ireland’s Deep Atlantic, Ken O’Sullivan motivated students with his research into aquatic life in Irish waters. Important issues were highlighted throughout the day and students focused on Ireland’s marine biodiversity and concerns associated with plastic pollution. Alongside serious topics were fun activities such as sasa dancing, listening to sounds of the sea and learning about species with superpowers (think invisibility, poison and super strength!).

On Tuesday, primary school students from St. Colman’s Boys National School, Kanturk delivered a fascinating presentation on plastic islands and their ideas on how to reduce plastic waste in our oceans.  Secondary school students from St. Joseph’s, Castlebar also delivered a dynamic presentation about their work on the Green-Schools Marine Environment theme.

Throughout the conference, each participating school exhibits a project relating to an issue concerning marine life. ‘Wellbeing at the sea’, ‘Fishing and the marine environment’ and ‘Microplastics’ are just some of the topics selected for these projects.

The conference also launched a new competition about Marine Spatial Planning in Ireland in conjunction with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Participating students will be asked to create a vision for the future of our seas as part of the competition – more details will be announced on our website soon.

Global Citizenship Marine Environment is the eighth theme of the Green-Schools programme. In advance of working towards the Marine Environment Green Flag, schools have been awarded for Litter and Waste, Energy, Water, Travel and Biodiversity as well as the two maintenance themes Global Citizenship Litter and Waste and Global Citizenship Energy.