There are studies that indicate the Blue Economy – those industries associated with water – can be more than 30% of the economy for Gulf Coast states.  This includes industries such as fisheries, tourism, and recreation, as well as shipbuilding, oil & gas, and offshore developments.  Therefore, it is imperative that we strive toward healthy oceans and waterways to maintain our economies for years to come.  In support of Earth Day and the UN Decade of the Ocean goals, OCEANS 2023 is offering two outreach programs that bring attention to some of the global struggles we have today.

The OCEANS 2023 Outreach Challenge seeks K-12 students, as well as those in community college, to create a project that identifies and addresses solutions for plastics in our environment.  With increasing levels of complexity expected from older students, a video representation of the project is posted on YouTube and reviewed by a committee.  First, second, and third cash prizes will be awarded to those teams with the most creative projects.  Additional information on the program is available at OCEANS Outreach – OCEANS (

The OCEANS Beach Trash Art Contest seeks artists of all ages, amateur and professional, to bring their works of art to the conference for display.  A special, well-lit area has been identified for these art pieces.  Conference-goers will each have a ticket they can place in the boxes in front of their favorite piece.  Winners in various age categories will be announced at the OCEANS 2023 gala and the overall winner will be displayed at the INFINITY Science Center for a year.  Additional information about this program, including rules of engagement can be found at Beach Trash Contest – OCEANS (

Our conference is all about careers and technologies that are driven by the needs of the Blue Economy.  Earth Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the asset that is our oceans and what improving the health of our oceans will mean to future generations.