While Earth Day was being celebrated around the world, a young maritime industry led agency added to the festivities by announcing it now has over 100 members. The North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) was officially launched in 2007 under the watchful eyes of IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos and USCG Vice Commandant Vivien Crea . In keeping with the mission of MEPAs worldwide, this industry-led initiative is dedicated to increase environmental awareness and motivation of the human element within shipping and land-based industries that have a vested interest in preservation of the marine environment. Specifically, NAMEPA has the goal of educating the seafarers, port communities, and the wider public and school communities about the critical importance of the world’s oceans to mankind and the maritime industry’s role and actions to preserve it.
“NAMEPA was conceived at just the right time,” stated Founding Chairman Clay Maitland. “The public’s eyes were turning to the environment, while at the same time the maritime industry sought mechanisms for insuring its preservation. These two goals were achieved in our region by the formation of NAMEPA.”
NAMEPA was predicated on the nearly 30 year old model established by George P. Livanos when he founded HELMEPA (Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association). Today there are 7 MEPAs around the world. While each MEPA has its own programs, they share the mission “To Save the Seas”.
“While establishing a new association has its risks,” observed NAMEPA Co-Founder and Executive Director Carleen Lyden-Kluss, “NAMEPA has had many rewards. I am so very proud of the way our industry as supported and embraced NAMEPA. We are gratified by the interest in membership, sponsorship of our programs, our relationships with other agencies, and commitment of our Board of Directors in their guidance of the organization.”
Since its founding, NAMEPA has produced 4 World Maritime Day Observances, including the 2009 World Maritime Day Parallel Event, four National Maritime Day Seminars, two spill response exercises, and six Environmental Intelligence in Shipping Seminars. Through its partnership with the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMMA), it has distributed 12,000 copies of the American Club’s environmental crimes poster and 2000 marine debris posters to seafarers. Along with the Sea Research Foundation it has mounted three children’s drawing competitions with this year’s contest reaching out to 500,000 schoolchildren from K-12. NAMEPA is also in the process of producing a MARPOL/marine science educational tool for seafarers, as well as developing a marine debris teaching module for elementary students. The latter will be tested in New Haven, CT schools this fall working with the USCG’s Sector Long Island as classroom educators.
More information on the North American Marine Environment Protection Association, including upcoming events, can be found at www.namepa.net or by visiting the North American Marine Environment Protection Association Facebook Page.